DE La Salle coach Gee Abanilla sees a lot of PBA legend Hector Calma in the Archers' prized recruit Kib Montalbo.
“Papunta siya sa linya na tipong Hector Calma,” said Abanilla on Tuesday as he made his first assessment of the celebrated point guard from Bacolod. “Pass-first guard pero kung walang mangyari, he can score.”
The 5-8 Calma was hailed as one of the 25 greatest players during the PBA's first 25 years after a checkered career with San Miguel Beer and the Northern Consolidated-backed national team.
Montalbo is taller than Calma at 5-10, but Abanilla said the Bacolodnon's pass-first mentality, court vision, and impressive skills remind him of the former national star.
“What impressed me the most is siguro ‘yung attitude niya na pass-first as a point guard. He is really skilled, he has good dribbling skills, at maganda ang mata at vision,” said Abanilla of Montalbo, who has made a commitment to play for the Archers in the UAAP next season.
Montalbo's unselfishness on the court is not the only thing he shares in common with Calma.
La Salle patron Eduardo 'Danding' Cojuangco, who had a hand in Montalbo's recruitment, was the same man who brought in Calma to quarterback the multi-titled Philippine national teams of Ron Jacobs in the eighties.
Prior to committing to the Green Archers, Montalbo led St. John Institute to the Negros Occidental Private Schools Sports Cultural Educational Foundation (Nopsscea) high school crown.
Montalbo was also a member of the 2010 Jr. NBA All-Star Philippine team.
If there's one concern about Montalbo, it is his lean frame which Abanilla plans to address by making the high school sensation undergo a special training program with La Salle as soon as possible.
“Medyo nga maliit pa pero we have to remember that he is only 16 years old," Abanilla said. "All the coaches are in unison na makakatulong siya sa amin. Having said that, tutulungan din namin siya mentally and physically.”
This early, Abanilla said that the Green Archers have drafted a training program for Montalbo even if he is still in Bacolod to finish his studies at St. John.
“May mga leagues pa sila. Kapag bumalik dito (sa Manila), I’m sure na bibisita siya sa mga practices namin,” Abanilla said.
Abanilla said Montalbo is also impressive academically.
“’Yung scholastic record niya, maganda. It’s very rare and ‘yun ang gusto namin talaga, mag-aral kayo and at the same time, mag-basketball. Because in the end, ang kaibahan sa college basketball is you are nurturing kids,” Abanilla said.