PBA Philippine Cup

Out to prove himself, Nambatac tows Blackwater to winning start in PH Cup

Delfin Dioquino

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Out to prove himself, Nambatac tows Blackwater to winning start in PH Cup

NEW GUY. Rey Nambatac in action for the Blackwater Bossing in the 2024 PBA Philippine Cup.

PBA Images

Rey Nambatac turns in a sensational debut for Blackwater, which snaps a 10-game skid to kick off the Philippine Cup

RIZAL, Philippines – Rey Nambatac knows he has a lot to bring to the table.

And he proved just that after a sensational debut for Blackwater, starring in a 96-93 win over Meralco that opened hostilities in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo on Wednesday, February 28.

Traded by Rain or Shine following a major drop in his playing time, Nambatac shone for his new team with 27 points, a career-high 10 assists, and 5 rebounds as the Bossing marked a fresh start after ending a 10-game skid.

“For me, it is a big challenge, and at the same time, it is a motivation to prove something, to prove to myself and to everyone that I can still make it,” said Nambatac in a mix of Filipino and English.

Making a name for himself as a clutch player during the best stretch of his seven seasons with the Elasto Painters, Nambatac delivered a pair of crucial plays that secured the win after the Bolts nearly erased a 19-point deficit.

His side up by just a point, 94-93, Nambatac drew a foul while attacking the basket and sank his two free throws to make it a three-point lead.

Nambatac then pulled down a defensive rebound on the other end after Meralco veteran Allein Maliksi missed a game-tying three-pointer to seal the deal.

The former Letran standout said he just wants to return the favor after being welcomed with open arms by Blackwater head coach Jeff Cariaso and the rest of the team.

“Right after the trade, coach Jeff called on the phone and we talked. That made me feel coach Jeff really likes me. And in return, I’ll slowly repay the trust that he is giving me,” said Nambatac.

Troy Rosario backstopped Nambatac with 15 points and 4 rebounds, Rey Suerte put up 11 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists, while Tyrus Hill added 10 points.

James Yap chimed in 5 points in his debut for the Bossing – the third team of his illustrious PBA career that started in 2004.

Yap, a two-time PBA MVP, joined Blackwater after securing his release from Rain or Shine at the end of the previous conference.

Maliksi matched Nambatac with 27 points, powering a fourth-quarter comeback that saw him sink four three-pointers and erupt for 20 points in the period.

The Bolts, who got buried by as deep as 86-67 midway through the final frame, got within 94-93 off a 26-8 run capped by 11 straight points from Maliksi.

But Meralco failed to get the job done as the Bossing escaped for a winning start in the All-Filipino tournament.

Fresh from helping Gilas Pilipinas sweep the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, Chris Newsome finished with 16 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals in the losing effort.

The Scores

Blackwater 96 – Nambatac 27, Rosario 15, Suerte 11, Hill 10, DiGregorio 9, David 7, Escoto 6, Guinto 5, Yap 5, Jopia 1, Ilagan 0, Kwekuteye 0, Sena 0.

Meralco 93 – Maliksi 27, Newsome 16, Jose 10, Mendoza 10, Black 10, Hodge 6, Banchero 5, Quinto 3, Bates 3, Torres 3, Caram 0, Pasaol 0, Pascual 0.

Quarters: 18-26, 43-41, 72-62, 96-93.

– Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.