ANTIPOLO CITY, Philippines – Magnolia badly wanted to finish off Rain or Shine in their semifinals duel in the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup, but Rey Nambatac apparently had other plans.
Nambatac keyed in 16 points off 4 triples with 3 rebounds and 3 assists in a 91-81 victory as the Elasto Painters dragged the Hotshots to a do-or-die Game 7 on Friday, April 26.
It was a nip-and-tuck battle with the two teams figuring in a 62-all deadlock through 3 quarters before the sophomore guard drilled in all of his three-pointers in the final frame to finish with 13 points in the period.
Rain or Shine veteran Beau Belga reminded the young guns of the prestige of winning an All-Filipino champion after Magnolia gained a 3-2 series lead, and Nambatac took the message to heart.
"Sobrang importante itong conference na ito, kasi sabi nga sa amin ni Beau, All-Filipino. Sobrang laki ng chance namin na mag-finals, and at the same time, mag-champion," he said.
(This All-Filipino conference is very important to us, just like what Beau said. We have a big chance to make it into the finals, and at the same time, to win the championship.)
"Kaming Rain or Shine, known kami na kaya namin makipag-compete as All-Filipino eh, nagre-rely kami sa bawat isa, hindi lang sa isa o dalawang tao. 'Yun siguro 'yung pinaka-bread and butter namin."
(Rain or Shine is known for always contending in the All-Filipino. We rely on everyone, not just on one or two players. That's our bread and butter.)
Having played in a winner-take-all match back when he helped the Letran Knights clinch the 2016 NCAA championship against the San Beda Red Lions, Nambatac is no stranger to a pressure-packed atmosphere.
But he expects it to be tougher in the pros, admitting he has plenty to prepare for not just physically, but also mentally.
"First time ko ito, Game 7. Medyo may pressure kasi nga professional na ito eh, 'di na to amateur na basta basta mo lang iisipin," Nambatac said.
(This is my first time to play in a Game 7. There's a little bit of pressure because I'm already in the professional ranks, this is not like the amateur league where you don't have to think about it that much.)
"Ito kailangan mo pag-aralan, especially ako alam ko na nasa scouting report din ako ng Magnolia so 'di ako dapat magre-relax. Alam ko sa sarili ko na may matutulong ako 'pag pinasok ako."
(You need to study the game, especially since I know that I'm included in Magnolia's scouting report so I can't afford to relax. I know that I can help the team when I get to play.)
Rain or Shine and Magnolia lock horns in Game 7 on Sunday, April 28, at the Mall of Asia Arena and Nambatac just wants to cherish the moment.
"[M]agandang experience sa akin ito na habang bata pa ako, nae-encounter ko na 'yung mga ganitong series, 'yung ganitong kagagandang laban. Thankful ako."
(This is a good experience for me to play in these kinds of series and games now that I'm still young. I'm thankful.) – Rappler.com
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.