MANILA, Philippines – When his name is called, Rey Nambatac is ready to deliver.
And Nambatac showed just that after draining the game-winner that propelled Rain or Shine to a comeback 83-80 win over Blackwater in Game 1 of their best-of-three PBA Commissioner's Cup quarterfinals duel on Saturday, July 20.
With the score knotted at 80, Nambatac shrugged off a pesky Roi Sumang with a pump fake and drilled in a three-pointer that hit nothing but the net from way downtown with two ticks remaining.
But his clutch shot was just one of the several key plays the sophomore guard made down the stretch.
After import Carl Montgomery pulled Rain or Shine within 5 points, 75-80, Nambatac took over as he stole the ball from Ray Parks and drained a layup before assisting Gabe Norwood for the game-tying triple.
On the other end, he helped prevent Parks from hitting a go-ahead jumper and then ultimately sank the biggest basket of the game to finish with 13 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals.
"Coach Caloy (Garcia) needed a go-to guy who will step up because we couldn't make our shots at the start of the second half and that was when Blackwater made a rally. So I thought that I needed to step up," Nambatac said in Filipino.
"Coach Caloy is giving me the free will to do what I want so I just repaid his and my teammates' trust."
Beau Belga, who admitted he almost lost hope when Rain or Shine was down 8 points in the final two minutes, only had praises for Nambatac.
"He has learned that when it comes to the endgame that you can't be rattled," Belga said of Nambatac in Filipino. "Rey showed that type of dagger shot. You can't help but salute the kid, he's fearless. I salute him."
Rain or Shine would need the same production and grit from Nambatac when it tries to close out Blackwater in Game 2 at the Araneta Coliseum on Tuesday, July 23. – 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.