MANILA – Rey Nambatac lived up to his billing as Rain or Shine’s closer as he once again drained the winning shot for the team in a 95-93 squeaker over San Miguel in the PBA Philippine Cup on Sunday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Nambatac finished the job for the Elasto Painters with a tough layup with 2.5 seconds left in the game even as their defense led to the Beermen not taking a shot in time.
“I’d already designed a play where he would get the ball either at the top of the key or if we get it to the post, it would be a handoff to him, but Rey’s playmaking was all him. I got him the ball, and he’s the one that was able to go with his instincts and make that game-winning basket for us,” Coach Chris Gavina said after the game.
Nambatac’s heroics preserved a huge game from rookie Santi Santillan.
Santillan led ROS with 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting on top of five rebounds and one assist.
“[Ang game plan ko ay] siguro consistency lang talaga. Yun ang sabi sa akin ni Coach: ‘Kung maganda yung laro mo noong last game, kailangan ganun din (My game plan is probably about consistency. That’s what Coach told me: ‘If you played well last game, you should do the same) this game,'” Santillan said.
Despite the impressive game, Santillan could not close out the game earlier for the E-Painters.
With the E-Painters up, 92-89, Santillan could only make a split from the free-throw line as the Beermen got the ball back with 51.1 seconds left.
ROS’s defense forced Terrence Romeo to a missed three-pointer, but Santillan sorrily missed a jump hook and a Bradwyn Guinto foul led to two free throws from June Mar Fajardo that brought SMB to within two, 91-93, with 19 seconds on the clock.
CJ Perez then stole the ball from Anton Asistio, leading to a layup with 12.5 seconds to go with the game tied at 93-all.
But Beau Belga found Nambatac at the right corner, and the latter drove against three defenders for the go-ahead shot.
“I always talked to Rey being ready to be our closer, and our mindset was I could tell he wanted to play. I kind of went to my gut feeling with Anton in the previous play, and I have no fear of getting the ball to Rey’s hands and knowing that he’ll come up with something that’s going to come out of the positive with what happened today, and that’s exactly what happened with that play,” Gavina further said.
The Beermen had a chance to win, but the E-Painters’ defense swarmed Romeo, forcing him to pass the ball to Marcio Lassiter as the clock read zeroes all over it.
Javee Mocon added 18 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists for ROS, which moved up to 6-4 in the standings.
Romeo finished with 20 points, three rebounds, six assists, and three steals for SMB, which fell to fourth place at 5-3.
Perez and Santos each added 18 markers with the latter completing a double-double with 12 boards. (PNA)