KIB Montalbo, a key member of the 2016-2017 La Salle champion team in the UAAP, and former Far Eastern University standout Arvin Tolentino, were among the latest collegiate stars to join the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League.
Montalbo will play for the retooling Makati Super Crunch, one of the hottest teams in the recent MPBL Datu Cup until it faltered in the playoffs and lost to the Quezon City Capitals in the northern division quarterfinal round.
Aside from Montalbo, the Super Crunch will also bring in PBA journeyman point guard Simon Atkins, who was released recently by the Meralco Bolts, along with Juneric Baloria and big man Rino Berame.
Baloria and Berame are the latest transferees for the Super Crunch to be handled by head coach Cholo Villanueva. Baloria played for the Pampanga Dong Lanterns last season, averaging 15.38 points per game.
Berame is a 6-foot-5 center, who decided to bolt out the Zamboanga team last season when new owners of the franchise took over.
“We were able to address our weaknesses from last season following the inclusion of these players,” Villanueva said.
"With Juneric, we were able to get a player who has experience in the playoffs and an additional gunner. With Kib, he gives us the youth and energy. Simon will give us the experience and extra stability at the point guard spot while Berame will definitely provide us the size that we badly needed.”
Another busy team in the offseason is Batangas City, the inaugural staging champion, which tapped the services of Tolentino.
A 6-foot-4 forward who can play the small forward position, Tolentino will be joined at Batangas by ex-pro Jason Melano.
Melano, a 6-foot-3 forward, was supposed to play for the Caloocan Supremos after his contract with the Bulacan Kuyas ended. But the former Blackwater player in the PBA couldn’t come to terms with the Supremos and the Athletics immediately took advantage and signed up the versatile forward.
“With Melano and Tolentino, we have players capable of playing both the No. 3 and No. 4 spots,” said Batangas City team executive Jean Alabanza.