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    Kelly Nabong now a free agent after being left unsigned by NorthPort

    Mar 23, 2021
    Kelly Nabong
    PHOTO: PBA Images

    NORTHPORT has let go of eccentric forward Kelly Nabong, making him a free agent heading to the PBA 46th season.

    The 32-year-old Fil-Am wasn’t offered a new contract when his previous one expired, according to his representative Danny Espiritu, and had since been released by the franchise.

    It didn't help Nabong's cause that NorthPort picked two big men in the first round of the recent PBA rookie draft, namely Jaime Malonzo at No. 2 overall and Troy Rike at No. 11.

    The Batang Pier got Greg Slaughter in the Christian Standhardinger trade and likewise got Sidney Onwubere from Rain or Shine in a trade for Bradwyn Guinto.

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      There are teams reportedly considering to get his services, but has been wary about his temper that has long been Nabong’s Achilles heel in a controversy-filled career.

      The parting of ways came just as the 6-foot-4 power forward was coming off his best season in the league during the Philippine Cup bubble in Clark, Pampanga.

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      The native of Sacramento, California averaged 11.5 points and 5.1 rebounds in 11 games with the Batang Pier, who unfortunately tumbled out of contention for a playoffs berth after finishing with a 1-11 record.

      Nabong’s short temper showed in the bubble, too, after getting entangled with former San Miguel teammate Arwind Santos during the two teams' face-off last Nov. 10.

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        Nabong was called for a flagrant foul penalty 1 for bumping Santos hard while driving to the basket, causing the former league MVP to fall hard to the floor.

        The foul led to Nabong’s disqualification as the Batang Pier lost by a mile, 120-99, in their last game of the conference.

        He was later fined P5,000.

        Santos and Nabong also had a history from the latter’s two-year stay with the Beermen, which came to a sorry end when the two got involve in an infamous practice brawl that also involved import Dez Wells and veteran guard Ronald Tubid.

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        Following that commotion in practice, Nabong found himself being traded to NorthPort for Russel Escoto in the offseason.

        Incidentally, two of Nabong’s PBA championship came that same 2019 season with San Miguel, which won back-to-back the Philippine Cup and Commissioner’s Cup, respectively.

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          The Beermen were actually on course for a grand slam until that ill-fated brawl broke both the team’s momentum and focus.

          In his nine-year pro career, two of Nabong’s best seasons came with NorthPort, where he also averaged 8.3 points and 5.5 rebounds during the 2017-18 season after spending time playing for San Miguel which acquired him from a trade during the Commissioner’s Cup for Gabby Espinas and a 2020 second round pick.

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          PHOTO: PBA Images
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