THERE was so much hype generated when guard Kirell Brahndon ‘Kib’ Montalbo committed to play for the De La Salle Green Archers in the next UAAP season.
Social networking sites were abuzz when Jeron Teng tweeted a photo on Sunday of him handing a La Salle jersey to Montalbo in the presence of the Archers' top patron Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco and head coach Gee Abanilla.
Montalbo even tweeted on Sunday: “Now I can say that I am officially a Green archer :)”
But one question still begs for an answer: Is 'The Kib' for real?
Montalbo may not be quite known among cage fans in Manila, but he has gained quite a reputation the past few years playing in the Negros Occidental Private Schools Sports Cultural Educational Foundation (Nopsscea) tournament.
According to those who had seen him play, Montalbo is certainly a talented player who deserves the attention of recruiters in Manila.
One sportswriter who had the chance to cover games where Montalbo saw action said the Bacolodnon is "quick and athletic" and capable of playing both the one- and two-guard positions in the collegiate league.
“Second year pa lang, nire-recruit na ng mga Manila teams. Terrific ballhandler, deadly slasher, and much-improved outside shooting,” said Cebu-based sports scribe and Spin.ph correspondent Jonas Panerio.
His scoring prowess has also been well-documented. A check on Google saw that Montalbo once lit up for 51 points in a Nopsscea elementary basketball game while playing for Bacolod Tay Tung High School.
Recently, Montalbo also led St. John Institute to the Nopsscea high school crown after it beat University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos in his farewell season with the team.
Montalbo was a part of the 2010 Jr. NBA All-Star-Philippines team. He was good enough to be tapped to play as an import for a high school team in Thailand just last September.
One downside of Montalbo, observers feel, is that he has a lean frame that may not withstand the physicality of the UAAP. But Panerio said his potential, talent, and toughness are just too hard to pass up.
“Two questions remain though, if he is ready physically (for the UAAP), and if he can break through La Salle’s crowded backcourt," Panerio said. "But he has a lot of potential. That kid is feisty."