The San Juan Arena
May 4, 2013
“Knight-mare” to foes
All high school basketball players dream of making a name for themselves someday.
So if you’re good, you’re naturally recruited by top-tier collegiate schools including the ones from the UAAP and NCAA. If you want to shortcut to fame, you go for the glamour league like the UAAP. And if you can help it, get into Ateneo or La Salle, easily the top two most popular basketball schools in the land. Of course, Ateneo and La Salle are like our version of the US NCAA’s Duke and North Carolina or football’s Army vs Navy.
This kid named Rey Nambatac is no different. Like everyone, he also wants to hit big in the future. The difference, Nambatac knows success has no shortcuts. You got to start somewhere where you know you’ve got an opportunity to shine. So when the time came when he had to make a decision on what school he’s going, he chose the school where it all began–Letran.
Never mind that some UAAP schools were hot on his tracks, trying to recruit him to play. Some even offered Heaven and Earth just to lure him. But Nambatac’s mind is already set. He wants to play for a team that he knows will give him the minutes and the love. And he’s sure there’s no other squad that could give him that but the Knights.
“Marami po nag-recruit sa akin karamihan galing sa UAAP,” recounts Nambatac, who was a triple-double machine in high school playing for the Squires.
“Pero ang pinili ko po Letran kasi bukod sa pinakita nilang kailangan na ako, hindi na rin po ako mag-a-adjust dahil sa Letran na rin naman ako nag-high school,” he adds.
But more than that, Nambatac has heard horror stories from some of his old teammates at Letran and some batchmates from other schools about getting recruited by UAAP players only to get limited minutes or rot on the bench outright.
“Marami po akong kakilala hindi ko na lang babanggitin pangalan, nag-UAAP sila pero sa huli, kung hindi masyado nagamit, nabangko na lang at nawala na lang sa eksena,” recalls Nambatac. “Kaya isa na rin yun sa mga naging basehan ng aking decision kasi ayoko mangyari sa akin yun dahil marami talaga ako magiging kaagaw dun.
“Kaya talagang decided na ako sa Letran dahil napamahal na sa akin ito at alam ko kailangan nila ako,” he adds.
Going to Letran could turn out to be one of the best decisions Nambatac, who suited up for the national youth team named Energen Pilipinas, made. He didn’t only land in a team he wants to but he also found a team that desperately needs him more.
Proof to that was this one game by the Knights in the elimination round of the Filoil Flying V Hanes Premier Cup. Faced against NCAA rival San Sebastian, Letran was pushed to the limit. The Knights, playing without Kevin Alas, who forego his final year to play for Smart Gilas 2.0, and Kevin Racal, who is out due to injury, needed a hero in a hurry. And Nambatac readily embraced it, hitting crucial baskets in overtime to help his team escape with a 96-94 win. In that same game, Nambatac played 31 minutes and finished with 13 points, nine rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block.
After the game, Letran coach Caloy Garcia, who has taken over from Louie Alas this year, is all praises of Nambatac. “He can score, rebound, pass, defend. What’s even more great about him is that he doesn’t demand the ball to make it happen. He’s an amazing rookie,” says Garcia.
Rey Nambatac has found a home.
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