With little chance of getting big man from PBA rookie draft, Meralco pins hopes on Kelly Nabong
Coach Norman Black says adding three-year pro Kelly Nabong, listed as 6 feet 8 inches, to the Bolts' undersized frontline will give the team a wide body to defend against imports. Jaime Campos 

NORMAN Black explained the decision to acquire hulking Fil-Am slotman Kelly Nabong is part of Meralco’s plan to beef up its frontline in the event the Bolts fail to land a marquee big man in this year’s PBA Rookie Draft.

Fil-Tongan Moala Tautuaa and National University’s vastly-improved big man Troy Rosario are projected to go 1-2 in this year’s rookie draft, and the Bolts, who hold the No. 3 pick, could end up taking a wingman or a point guard from the pool of incoming rookies.

“In making the decision to bring in Nabong, we bring him in basically because we have a lot of shooting guards and we lacked a young big,” Black told Spin.ph after the formal launch of Meralco’s official sports site www.onemeralcosports.com at the Orange Fit Multi-Purpose hall in the Meralco compound in Ortigas, Pasig.

They Said It!

In making the decision to bring in Nabong, we bring him in basically because we have a lot of shooting guards and we lacked a young big." Norman Black

“But looking at the future, the way things look right now with our draft picks at No. 3 and No. 8, the two bigs will be gone already, Rosario and Tautuaa, so we’ll probably end up getting a good wing man or a very talented point guard.”

But the multi-titled Black said he’s happy to get the services of the wide-bodied Nabong through a three-team trade that also involved GlobalPort and NLEX.

[See Meralco acquires Nabong, NLEX gets John Wilson in three-team trade]

The 57-year-old Meralco coach noted Nabong can help defend the post against bigger imports in the PBA Governors Cup.

“We’re probably preparing for the fact that we still have to go up against seven-footers because of the format,” he said. “We still play KIA and we still play Barako Bull so we have to do a better job controlling the rebounds.”

Meralco is preparing for Sunday’s crucial match against surprising Barako Bull, which leads the tournament with a 3-0 record.

Reynel Hugnatan, the Bolts’ undersized slotman, is just happy to have Nabong this conference, saying his size and youth will be huge as they try to slow down big men such as Barako Bull’s 7-foot-2 import Liam McMorrow.

“Sobrang laki niya (McMorrow). Mabuti na lang nandito na si Kelly. Malaking bagay yung may makakapalitan din ako,” he said.

“Eh nakita ko nga 'yung laro niya (McMorrow) nung isang araw na kalaban nila Talk ‘N Text. Dun ako nakakita ng seven-footer na tumatakbo, rume-rebound saka tumitira din sa labas,” he added.


McMorrow, a teammate of Meralco’s Japanese import Seiya Ando in the NBL-Canada, is averaging monster numbers of 27.3 points and 21.6 rebounds, while shooting a tournament-best 62.9 percent from the floor.

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