TNT may have found someone who could be a vital part of its rotation down the road following a pair of good games from sophomore guard Kib Montalbo.
Coach Chot Reyes praised Montalbo, who was inserted into the starting lineup and produced 13 points and three steals in the Tropang Giga’s 100-85 win over the NLEX Road Warriors, a result that assured them of clinching a quarterfinals berth in the PBA Philippine Cup.
“The reason I started Kib was because of his game the last time out. He played an excellent ball game and I felt that he deserved to start,” Reyes said after winning over NLEX Friday, Sept. 10 at the Don Honorio Ventura State University.
Convinced that TNT won’t be able to overcome SMB’s early onslaught, Reyes opted to sit out his main guards Mikey Williams and Jayson Castro and gave Montalbo heavy minutes during the second half.
That resulted in Montalbo scoring a team-high 13 points with four assists and two steals in the contest that ended with TNT losing 83-67. He also spent time guarding SMB star Terrence Romeo, who later exchanged words with Montalbo after knocking down a tough baseline jumper.
More than his performance against SMB, the TNT mentor also felt Montalbo would pose a good matchup to NLEX’s Kevin Alas, one of the league’s top scorers.
Alas finished with 16 points, but only had seven in the first two quarters and went scoreless in the third where TNT pulled away to post its seventh win in eight matches.
“The more important thing was we felt he was a good matchup for Kevin as well. So we knew a big part of the offense of NLEX is Kevin Alas, so we thought Kib had the speed and the defensive prowess to at least give Kevin some problems. I know he picked up two quick fouls early, but I thought he played an excellent ballgame,” added Reyes.