LETRAN’S big guns all came to play but it still wasn’t enough for the Knights to pull an upset against longtime rival San Beda, 74-81, in the NCAA Season 93 seniors basketball tournament on Tuesday at the Filoil Flying V Center in San Juan.
Rey Nambatac, Jerrick Balanza, Bong Quinto and JP Calvo all had solid games for Letran, but the Knights’ shallow bench got exposed anew in seeing their hot start turn cold against the Red Lions.
The rest of the team outside of the four players combined for just three points, with all nine players missing all of their combined eight attemp.
Nambatac hope the Letran reserves address whatever it is that’s holding them back — whether it’s a lack of confidence or readiness — in the next few games.
“Alam kasi ng kalaban eh na ano lang 'yung bench namin, mababaw lang compared sa ibang teams. So talagang madali lang sa kanila na i-scoutin kami kasi alam naman nila kung sino lang yung talagang tutukan nila ng masyado,” said Nambatac, who finished with 18 points and five rebounds.
“Kailangan may tatlo o apat pang mag-step up. Mahirap sa sitwasyon namin na kaming apat, yung mga go-to guys, mahirap na ano eh, maglalaro kami ng walang labasan eh. Baka pagdating ng second round or mga crucial game, hindi na kakayanin ng katawan namin dahil pagod na nga,” he added.
The Letran gunner warned that being forced to do pretty much everything will eventually take its toll, and it’s pretty evident now with how they finish games.
“Siguro yun din ang isa sa factor kung bakit pagdating sa duluhan, nauubos kami eh. Kasi nga, wala na. Kumbaga kaming apat, lima, anim, wala na kaming materyales eh na talagang ilalabas pa kasi pagod na,” Nambatac continued.
Despite the worst start of his NCAA career with a 1-3 record, Nambatac remains optimistic that they can still bounce back from their early struggles.
He admitted that the morale of the team is low right now, but he understands that these are the struggles that they have to face with the odds stacked against them this season.
“We all know na may rason ang lahat ng nangyayari so, alam namin na yung timing, talagang perfect yan eh,” Nambatac said.
“Struggle kami pero we serve this as a motivation kung paano namin ito matatagusan. 1-3 na nga, so mahaba pa ang season. Kailangan pa namin mag-trabaho pa, mag-double effort para makabalik kami ulit sa taas.”