YEARS from now, Kib Montalbo will look at his wall and smile seeing a framed white La Salle jersey.
This jersey, already dried from sweat and some stains of blood from his last UAAP game, will be a constant reminder for the Ilonggo playmaker of the career he's had in Taft.
"Di ko papalabhan ito kasi parang memorabilia ko ito, na I gave it all to La Salle. All out," he said of his uniform and soon-to-be memento which won't be washed anytime soon.
"Symbol ito na I gave my all. It’s my last game and I gave it all. Walang natira sa akin. Pagod na pagod ako eh. Natapilok, na-cramps, lahat na, but I gave it all for La Salle."
For someone who only dreamed of playing in front of booming drums, Montalbo has come a long way.
Never in his wildest dreams that he imagined himself winning two UAAP titles in La Salle, as well as serving as the captain for the UAAP Season 81 Green Archers side.
"I was just a boy who dreamed of playing basketball with drums. Yun lang," he reflected.
"Back in Bacolod, sabi ko gusto ko lang pumunta ng Maynila para maglaro kasi may drums dito. Sa Bacolod kasi walang crowd. I didn't expect that I'll be the captain of La Salle and lead the team. I never expected that. Wildest dream."
That dream turned into a reality.
Through championships, an ACL surgery, and everything in between, Montalbo is just grateful to spend the past half-decade and more in La Salle.
"I'm grateful to the university, the coaches, the bosses, managers, everything. Wala na akong masabi, I'm just grateful for the opportunity," he said, ending this chapter of his basketball career without any regrets.
"Ibinigay ko naman lahat. I come to practice striving to be a better player. Each and every day, I work my ass off. If basketball is not for me, I just gotta trust God. There’s no better way to put that."
It wasn't the final year Montalbo envisioned, with the 23-year-old cager battling injuries and struggling in his time on the floor. But what kept him going is his burning desire to continually hoisting La Salle's flag high and proud.
"I had injuries this season, but I played through it just for La Salle. I just want to play my last playing year," he said, just moments after the Green Archers bowed out of UAAP Season 81 in heartbreaking fashion courtesy of Arvin Tolentino as FEU took the 71-70 win.
And that Animo spirit is what Montalbo wants his younger peers to learn from him, that no matter how tough one's situation is, you can't let those frustrations put you down.
"There comes a point na hindi ka magagamit. Pero I always say to them na sa lahat ng trabahong makukuha mo, may frustrations eh. When you go to work, abroad or here, frustrations will always be there. Being in my position, as a captain, nagagamit na ako pero may frustrations pa rin eh. So frustrations will always be there, and you just have to deal with it, overcome through it, and overcome it themselves," he said.
Though Montalbo wasn't able to cap off his UAAP run with a crown, he's taking with him valuable lessons which he can bank on wherever his basketball journey takes him.
"As a leader, I learned to understand everyone. May kanya-kanyang pinagdadaanan yung tao eh, so you have to understand that before you approach them," he said. "It made me a better person, a mature person. Ang bata ko dati eh, but now, I learned to appreciate things."