As if the Green Archers didn’t have enough manpower problems already, it has been reported that team captain Kib Montalbo will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks after injuring his hand in last Sunday’s game versus UE. With him and Taane Samuel out of commission, La Salle is now left with 11 healthy bodies with only three games played so far this season.
While Justine Baltazar and Brandon Bates have done a good job covering for Samuel’s absence, it will be difficult to fill-in what Montalbo brings to the table each game. Not really known to pile up the points, Kib’s energy on the defensive end as well as his on-court leadership will be greatly missed.
Both players are expected to return by the latter part of the second round. By then let’s all hope the Green Archers can hold the fort and be able to compete for a berth in the final four. Without Samuel, our bigs are stepping up but with the team’s most seasoned player out, the backcourt unit would need to be solid moving forward.
Andrei Caracut is expected to be leader of this team next season, but the situation presents an opportunity for him to already step in that role. He should now take charge, be vocal and at the same be more aggressive on offensive. We know very well how explosive he was back in high school as well as in his rookie year with La Salle but he somehow got lost in the scheme of things in the succeeding seasons. What we want to see is the version of him that led the Red Cubs to the NCAA high school championship as well as the one that won UAAP rookie-of-the year in 2015.
We also expect that rookie Encho Serrano shall be given more playing minutes at the shooting guard spot. He gave a good account of himself last game and we look forward to see him play with more composure and have a significant role on the team’s offense.
As mentioned before, it would take a collective effort for them to have shot at competing for a championship. What’s nice is that in their first three games, it appears that every players’ role in the team is well-defined. Barring any more injuries, the team still has what it takes to compete. It would be a big help if there will be other players that will amp up their game and deliver on a consistent basis. We are hoping that when Kib and Taane returns, there would be no problems when they reintegrate back to the system and that it would not impact chemistry as they enter the crucial stages of the tournament.
Next man up all season.