Rain or Shine has been drawing one noteworthy performance after another from its bevy of youngsters. On Friday night, however, with a chance to get a streak going and keep the club’s playoff hopes alive, it was a six-year resurgent pro who came through with the key shots.
Rey Nambatac scored eight of his total 12 points in the final period to help the Elastopainters to a 113-101 victory over NLEX, the team’s second straight win after a winless start in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“It was just great timing,” he told the Inquirer shortly after the clash at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City. “I guess I was the ‘magic bunot’ of that game, changing the flow of things in that fourth quarter.”
Nambatac’s scoring has dipped during this conference. Before Friday night’s win, the seventh overall pick of the 2017 Rookie Draft had been averaging only 8.1 points per outing—a far cry from the 13.4 he set throughout three conferences in the previous season.
A downward trend in production, placed against the backdrop of career performances of younger guards like Gian Mamuyac, Andrei Caracut, and rookie Adrian Nocum, would paint a not-so-pleasant picture for Nambatac.
But he doesn’t see it that way.
“I look at it as motivation for me to work even more. I know I’m not getting any younger. Every year, a new guy is coming in. But I see it all as a challenge,” he said with a smile.
“I know that there’s a wave of younger players—and they’re probably better than me. But as a veteran, I’m more focused on what gaps I could fill for the team. If that is to be a role model for the younger guys, or a motivator before games. I’d do it,” he added.
With a 2-5 win-loss record and four games left, Nambatac will still have plenty of chances to prove that he is still a top offensive option for Rain or Shine. And what bigger stage than in a game against league-leading Magnolia in Cagayan de Oro City, where Nambatac was born and raised?
“Magnolia. We know they’re really tough. They’re one of the hardest teams to play in the PBA and they’re undefeated in this conference so it’ll be a challenge,” he said of the Dec. 16 encounter.
“I hope we can put up a fine performance in my hometown.”