INSTEAD of delving on the past, Blackwater coach Nash Racela is looking at the future on what Kelly Nabong can bring to the Bossing for the coming season.
The Bossing are set to sign Nabong to a six-month contract after the controversial big man was released by NorthPort during the offseason. Nabong had a fine season with the Batang Pier during the PBA bubble, but it apparently wasn't enough to land him an extension.
Racela said Nabong will definitely improve the Bossing not just with his bruising style of play but also the offense that he has established over the past few conferences. Last season, Nabong had his best year offensively, tallying 11.5 points a game for NorthPort.
“He is known for his toughness. That’s something that we look forward to,” said Racela. “He has developed his offense the last couple of years. Mas marami na siyang kayang gawin. Inside, outside, face basket, back-to-the-basket. ‘Yun din ang madadala niya sa amin.”
Controversies, however, hounded Nabong over the past few years including that infamous practice brawl in 2019 when he was still with San Miguel that also involved import Dez Wells, Arwind Santos, and Ronald Tubid.
Nabong also got entangled with Santos once again during the bubble after a hard collision sent Santos to the floor. Nabong was slapped with a flagrant foul one, ejected, and fined P50,000.
Racela is aware of Nabong’s past but said that his stint with Blackwater should also be considered a new beginning for the 32-year-old.
“Two ways. Knowing his past, I think it will also require us coaches managing him. Siyempre, there will be adjustments on our part. There will be adjustments on his part also. Hindi naman ito one-on-one eh. It becomes a team game,” said Racela.
“I think he is willing to adjust which is a good sign,” he added.
Nabong is also no stranger to the Dioceldo Dy-ownd franchise, having played for the team when it was still in the PBA D-League. Racela said that Nabong’s ties with Blackwater higher-ups will be key.
“Part na rin siya ng Blackwater before. Kahit papano, there is already a relationship with Boss Deo and Boss Deo would want to give him a clean slate. History is history. Past is past. But we look forward to him contributing in a lot of ways,” said Racela.
Racela said Nabong’s past was not even in the conversation when the two spoke briefly after the deal became official.
The Blackwater coach also said Nabong fits in the team that is mostly composed of players who wants to prove that they belong in the PBA.
“I don’t really focus on the past. If you see the composition of our team, a lot of our players especially the veterans, hindi naman sila ‘yung not-so-good in terms of career sa ibang teams. If they would focus on the past, hindi mapapaganda sa kanila and sa team.
"Sa amin, we always want to move forward and take advantage of the opportunity that is given to them. For a lot of them, not just Kelly, we want them to think about this as parang a new beginning sa kanila,” said Racela.
Racela is hoping that Nabong’s signing plus their other movements in the offseason including the draft will bear fruit for its 2021 campaign.
“That’s actually the logic behind every move of Blackwater. From signing up free agents and contracts of existing players, and even ‘yung signing of some rookies. Ang objective naman talaga is to somehow improve your team.
"Hopefully, mabigyan ng justice ang lahat ng galaw namin this past offseason,” said Racela.