THE smallest player in the PBA once again stood tall for the league’s most popular team.
Eman Monfort shone in the absence of injured Barangay Ginebra playmakers as the Kings held off Purefoods Hotshots, 96-87, on Sunday in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
The 5-foot-6 point guard put up an all-around performance of nine points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals, and no turnover in a season-high 30 minutes as a starter.
And it was all about seizing the moment for the Ateneo playmaker with Josh Urbiztondo and Jayjay Helterbrand out with injuries.
“It was just being patient and waiting for your opportunity, working hard sa practice, at dadating din sa’yo ‘yun,” the 27-year-old Monfort said. “Sometimes if you don’t play, test lang yung ng Diyos ‘yun sa’yo eh, so just wait for your time and it did.”
Monfort started for the third time this conference, relegating star lead guard LA Tenorio to the bench.
But both court generals finished the thrilling game together as they ran the Kings’ offense in the face of the Hotshots’ comeback.
Monfort doesn’t see his fellow playmakers as hindrance in keeping his playing time limited until now.
“Hindi ko naman tinitingnan na kaagaw ‘yun (guard teammtes) eh. They are my teammates so we help each other for us to win,” he said.
“Maganda yung binigay ni Eman,” Kings coach Ato Agustin said in the post-game press conference.
Tenorio knew his fellow Ateneo alumnus would step up.
“He’s always ready,” he said. “I always talk to him every practice. I always tell him to play his game. Natuwa ako kasi sa wakas, yung mga pinaghirapan niya sa practice, lahat ng mga napag-usapan namin, nag-pay off, eventually naman talaga.
“I believe in Eman. Kailangan lang talaga ng constant playing,” Tenorio added. “Ngayon medyo nakukuha na niya. Hopefully magtuloy-tuloy na kasi malaking bagay ‘yun na magkaroon ng lift from Eman.”
More than his numbers on paper, Monfort believes he was fired up after making hustle plays for the Kings.
“I just want to repay what coach gave me,” Monfort said. “Gusto ko naman siya na ma-trust niya ako.”