Captain Nambatac eyeing a winning farewell tour in Letran
LAST RIDE. A year wiser, Rey Nambatac is starting to become the leader Letran desperately needs.
If things would’ve gone according to plan, Letran’s main man Rey Nambatac would probably be playing in the pros right now.
Not that he regrets anything, but his plan was to join the draft if, and only if, the Knights became back-to-back champions last year.
Letran fell just short of the Final Four, finishing at sixth place with an even 9-9 record even as Nambatac had a stellar MVP-worthy season that saw him norm 20.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.6 steals.
“Ang plano ko sana, kung nakaisa pang championship ngayon, balak ko nang magpa-draft,” Nambatac said in an interview last year, “E ‘di nakapasok.”
Asked what he said to his Knights after last year’s heartbreaking campaign, Nambatac had this to share:
“Sabi ko lang sa kanila, we will bounce back hard next season,” he said. “Kahit papano, malungkot pa rin pero I still reminded them na ganyan talaga ang basketball, lalo na sa mga rookie namin, minsan 'di lang yun para sa'tin. Kung gusto nating makuha yung gusto natin, triplehin natin 'yung pagtatrabaho natin.”
And after feeling the sting of not being able to defend their feel-good 2015 championship, the Knights heeded their captain’s wise words and started preparations for Season 93 just a week after falling short.
“After ng Season 92, nag-training kami one week after, talagang nagfocus kami kung ano ba kulang ng team namin, bakit ‘di kami nakapasok. Until now, yun talaga yung gusto namin, na punan na namin yung mga pagkukulang namin last season,” he said.
Months later, Nambatac is already seeing massive improvement. “Nakikita ko lagi nilang bibigay 100% nila, so pagdating sa game, 100% din pinapakita nila,” he said.
“Nakikita ko especially sa practice pa lang, talagang grabe 'yung pagpursige ng mga teammates ko, 'yung individual practice nila ginagawa nila. Then pagdating sa game, maganda yung nagiging outcome,” he said.
The hard work they’ve been showing is just part of Nambatac’s plan of surprising the NCAA this season. “Gusto namin walang masyadong nageexpect samin, no pressure.”
“Basta kami, we will work hard in silence lang then hayaan namin na sila yung makakaalam na grabe kami magtrabaho,” Namabatac said.
And behind Letran’s receptive squad is their captain, who’s more prepared to face his responsibilities as the leader this time around.
“’Di madali maging team captain e,” Nambatac bared “Kasi kailangan as much as possible, maganda lagi pinapakita mo sa loob ng court, especially sa practice para yung mga teammates mo gagayahin ka.”
“Kailangan ko maging mas aggressive and vocal, on and off the court,” he said.
With his team firmly behind him, "The Stingrey" is ready to take on a bigger responsibility as a better leader to a better team this time around.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @alvinlaqui.