REY Nambatac is now basking in the PBA spotlight as the man who holds the keys to the Rain or Shine offense.
In college, though, he relatively shied away from the glare of the bright lights – and the perks that came with it – as he admirably chose the road less traveled.
After all, the Letran product declined lucrative offers from other schools to become one of the few standouts who can say they’re homegrown, having gone straight from high school to college playing for just one school.
Sharing his celebrated transition from high school to college on SPIN Zoom In, Nambatac bared he was a sought-after prospect heading into the seniors level after introducing himself with the Squires as the 2010 NCAA Juniors Rookie of the Year before emerging as NCAA Juniors MVP the year after.
Rey Nambatac on college offers
“Most of the teams sa college, sa UAAP at NCAA, talagang nire-recruit ako,” the 5-foot-11 combo guard revealed. “Ang kagandahan lang kasi nun, talagang hindi ako nagpasilaw eh. Mas pinriority ko pa din yung aking future na talagang gusto ko umabot sa PBA.”
“Kasi to be honest lang talaga, kung sa offer lang, ang dami talagang…kumbaga mapapa-yes ka talaga agad eh, sa offer na sobrang ganda talaga,” he admitted. “Pero yun nga, talagang nag-isip ako. In-analyze ko talaga ng maayos eh.”
Nambatac hinted La Salle, National University, Far Eastern University, University of the East, Ateneo, and University of Santo Tomas were among the schools that tried to woo him away from Intramuros. But with those schools also featuring their current stars in the same position as the Squires star, it was the logical move to stay.
“Nung time ko kasi na yun, sobrang loaded eh,” Nambatac said. “Kahit san ako magpunta, nandun pa eh. Nandun pa si Jeron Teng. Nandun pa si Jjay Alejandro. Nandun si Terrence Romeo. Nandun si (Roi) Sumang. Lahat eh, wala talaga eh, kumbaga mahihirapan ako makapasok sa team na yun, kasi mahirap naman isiksik ko yung sarili ko.”
“Nandun pa sila Kiefer (Ravena) nun sa Ateneo. UST nun, nandun sila (Kevin) Ferrer,” he added.
At Letran, Nambatac saw that Kevin Alas and Kevin Racal only had a few years left in their college careers, giving the incoming rookie a bigger chance to gain exposure.
“Dun ako sa team na hindi man ganun ka-laki yung offer, as long as mayroon akong spot dun sa rotation na kahit 10 minutes or 15 minutes, okay na ako dun,” Nambatac said. “Ang importante hindi lang mabangko.”
“Kasi mahirap na pag na-bangko ka eh. Dun na papasok yung mawawalan ka ng tiwala sa sarili mo,” the Cagayan de Oro native added. “And then, ayun na, wala na. Kahit na gamitin ka ng gamitin, kung wala ka naman ng kumpiyansa sa sarili mo, hindi na talaga lalabas yung laro mo.”
Then-outgoing Letran star RJ Jazul also had a hand in directing Nambatac toward the homegrown path like his senior walked on.
“The fathers there wanted me to talk to Rey na I have to convince him to stay in Letran,” Jazul said in his own SPIN Zoom In appearance.
Nambatac’s loyalty was eventually rewarded as he became part of the 2015 Knights team that ended a decade-long NCAA title drought, completing a Cinderella run under then rookie coach Aldin Ayo against a powerhouse San Beda crew.
Two years later, Nambatac heard his name get called as the seventh overall pick in the PBA draft, steadily working his way to now becoming one of the Elasto Painters’ stars.
“Hindi naman ako nagkamali ng pagpili, kas anlaking bagay nung desisyon ko na yun na mag-stay ako sa Letran,” the 28-year-old standout said. “Dahil sa decision ko na yun, nabigyan ako ng chance na makatungtong sa PBA.”