KELLY Nabong believes his good friend AJ Mandani has what it takes to return to the PBA, especially after his impressive stint with the Singapore Slingers in the Asean Basketball League (ABL).
Nabong was once again on hand to see his close friend replicate his heroic performance for the Slingers against Tanduay Alab Pilipinas, as Mandani hit 23 points, 11 coming in the fourth quarter, in Singapore's 90-80 win on the road at the San Juan Arena.
“I hope so. Based on his performance, man, he should be there [in the PBA] next year,” said Nabong outside the Singapore Slingers locker room on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old Mandani was spot-on as usual against Alab, knocking down eight of his 14 field-goal attempts, including a 6-of-8 clip from three-point range.
He was also crucial in Singapore’s first road game in the Philippines against Alab where he had 17 points, four assists, and three steals with Nabong also in attendance at ringside.
The 30-year-old Nabong said Mandani is capable of making those same shots in the PBA, especially now that he is gaining confidence from his ABL stint with the Slingers.
“It’s really good to see him getting his shots. He looks a lot more comfortable out there. He looks in better shape. I’m really glad to see him out there,” said Nabong.
Nabong has been good friends with Mandani since their days in the PBA D-League where they played for Blackwater early in their basketball careers in the country.
Since then, Nabong and Mandani have been like brothers as they still keep track of each other even though they are miles apart.
“Ever since Blackwater, we have been following each other every team even in the PBA. But I’m really glad he found his team here at Singapore. We talk on a daily basis. That’s like my brother. The only thing that is not binding us together is blood,” said Nabong.