REY Nambatac focused on the highs of a long career at Letran after the Knights were bundled out by longtime rival San Sebastian in NCAA Season 93 on Tuesday.
Nambatac's eight-year stint with Letran that included five seasons in college ended on a sour note when the Knights bowed to the Stags, 74-69, in the playoff for the fourth seeding in a stepladder playoff that will determine unbeaten Lyceum's opponent in the finals.
The 6-foot-1 Nambatac finished with 11 points but played in only 20 minutes as he was saddled with foul trouble - definitely not the way he wanted to be remembered by supporters.
Instead, he looked back with pride on accomplishments highlighted by an unlikely championship won in 2015.
“Siguro sa akin, not bad na rin ‘yung NCAA career ko,” said the 23-year-old Nambatac, a Rookie of the Year and MVP awardee in the juniors division in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
“Sa five years ko (college), naka-dalawang finals appearance ako. Sa pangalawa, nung 2015, nag-champion ako. Paulit-ulit kong sasabihin na ‘yun ang memorable sa akin.”
“At least, nabigyan ko sila ng championship. Talagang maganda ‘yun kasi no one expected na ganun ‘yung magiging outcome nung laro namin."
As he moves on to the next stage of his career, Nambatac indicated his readiness to turn pro. He joined the PBA Draft Combine on the eve of the San Sebastian match and is expected to be picked in the first round of the October 29 event.
“Eto na ‘yung time na makakapag-focus ako sa isa sa mga ultimate goal ko na makapag-PBA. I guess ready na ako sa pro. No choice kundi paghandaan. Ginusto ko ‘yun. Eto na ‘yun,” said Nambatac.
Nambatac is careful not to raise expectations ahead of the rookie draft.
“Sa Sunday, hindi lang ako mage-expect ng malaki. Balance lang kasi para sa akin, mas maganda ‘yung hindi ako nag-eexpect. Mas masaya ‘yung unexpected,” said Nambatac.
As he bids Letran goodbye, Nambatac expressed gratitude to the community especially to athletic director Fr. Vic Calvo and all his coaches with the Squires and the Knights.
“Malaki ang pasasalamat ko sa teammates ko, especially sa mga coaches ko and si Fr. Vic. They gave me an opportunity na mapakita ko ‘yung talent ko na kaya ko pala maglaro sa big leagues. Hindi lang pam-probinsya laro ko, kaya ko pala sa big leagues,” said the Cagayan De Oro native.