KIB Montalbo played true to his role as La Salle’s best perimeter defender - and got into Jerick Ahanmisi’s head in the process - during La Salle’s 82-75 comeback win over Adamson in the Final Four.
But he insisted it's nothing personal.
Montalbo got in the face of Ahanmisi all game long and raised the pressure in the final quarter, holding the Falcons scorer to three points after he scored 14 in the first three periods.
Not a few Falcons fans took offense to Montalbo’s tactics, with Ahanmisi’s brother Maverick even calling the fourth-year La Salle guard a ‘bully’ in a tirade on Twitter.
Montalbo, however, insisted he was merely doing his job, saying, “I told him it’s the Final Four and I’m gonna be up on him all night. Tinanong ko nga siya if he’s up for it. Yung teammates niya hinaharangan siya e, sabi niya, 'Okay lang, okay lang.' I just want to play defense.
“Wala akong tinira sa kanya, I’m just there, hard-nosed defense. We have to appreciate the fact na magaling siya. If hindi naman siya magaling, then bakit ako nandiyan?” he added.
Montalbo said that he saw the Rain or Shine star guard’s tweets against him but he would rather not respond aggressively.
“I meant no harm sa kapatid niya. I just want to play basketball. Siyempre susundan ko siya para pumasok ako sa isip niya. I want to get in his head in a basketball manner,” Montalbo continued.
“He’s a great player and I respect him. It’s all about basketball. If may gusto siya sabihin sa akin, I have to accept it. That’s my job. I have to play defense.”
He did, however, defend himself from the ‘bully’ tag.
“I’m not a bully. Before I did that, sinabi ko talaga sa kanya, 'I’m gonna be up on you all night cause it’s the Final Four.' Third quarter, dikit ako ng dikit sa kanya, sabi ko, 'I’m gonna be there.'”
After the match, Montalbo was seen trying to console a visibly dejected Ahanmisi.
“Actually hindi siya tumitingin sa akin. I don’t know if he’s mad or something. Sabihin ko dapat sa kanya na it’s all about basketball. If your’e gonna hate me, it’s okay. But if he wants to be friends, I’m good with it. It’s all in the court,” he said. “I understand naman. Sa kanila na 'yun."