PAGADIAN, ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR—Monbert Arong was a late addition for Zamboanga Sibugay in the Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup Mindanao Challenge.
He only arrived at the start of the second round as part of the replacements for Lester Reyes and Joseph Peñaredondo. Both left the Anak Mindanao Warriors squad for the Chooks-to-Go Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League Invitational.
But Arong sure brought his offensive artillery with him, highlighted by his performance on Wednesday evening here at the Pagadian City Gymnasium.
The 6-foot guard out of Lapulapu City, Cebu led Zamboanga Sibugay to an 82-71 beating of MFT Iligan.
He unleashed a game-high 23 points on 10-of-20 shooting, alongside four rebounds and two steals off the bench. He was also a plus-12 in his 19 minutes on the floor.
“Bago ko pa kinuha si Monbert dito, sinabihan ko na siya na ikaw ang magiging scorer namin dito,” said head coach Arnold Oliveros.
“Malaking bagay talaga si Monbert kasi nawala si Peñaredondo. So siya ang reliever.”
But little did people know, the Far Eastern University product was coming off an ACL injury.
Fortunately, he was undergoing strengthening programs by Coach Roger Potot. That helped Arong reach game shape when the Warriors came calling.
“Before ng liga nag-strengthening ako kay Roger. So siguro nakatulong ‘yun sa akin para maging ready dito,” said Arong, who was part of the ARQ Lapu-lapu squad in the Visayas Leg.
“Binibigyan talaga ako ng kumpyansa ni Coach Arnold. Sabi niya laruin ko lang ‘yung game ko.”
Jaybie Mantilla came together with Arong at the start of the second round.
They were badly needed as Zamboanga Sibugay is jockeying for position for a twice-to-beat incentive come the quarterfinals.
The Warriors stand at 6-5, tied with Pagadian for third. However, the latter holds the tiebreaker, having won both of their matchups.
Second, third, and fourth seeds will hold the twice-to-beat edge in the quarters. Roxas and Basilan BRT can still get up at 5-5 and 4-6, respectively.