LETRAN gunner Rey Nambatac went full throttle and played all out in the opening game of NCAA Season 92 against rival San Beda at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday.
But his heroic effort went for naught as he sputtered in the final stretch due to cramps, failing to finish the Knights' valiant comeback against the Red Lions.
Nambatac, who inherited the lead role from Mark Cruz and Kevin Racal, first succumbed to cramps at the 1:53 mark of the third quarter, right when the Knights erased a big lead by the Red Lions, following an awkward fall off a drive against Raniel Navarro.
Hoping he could still salvage his team from the jaws of defeat, Nambatac played through pain in the fourth quarter and dropped five points, including the breakaway layup that unfortunately triggered the cramps anew and shelved him for good. Letran's late rally fell short as San Beda escaped with the win, 89-85, yet Nambatac held his head high.
“Eager lang ako maglaro. Vvery important kasi yung opening game kasi doon mo makukuha yung kumpyansa,” said Nambatac, who had an all-around game as he finished 18 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.
“Pinilit ko lang talagang bumalik (nung fourth quarter). As a Letran Knight, kailangan ibigay mo ang lahat hangga’t may oras pa,” he added.
While Letran was still groping for form, Nambatac remained happy that the Knights' brand of basketball was in full display as they competed hard despite trailing by as much as 13 points early in the game.
“Kahit na lumayo ng 10 points ang San Beda, nandun pa rin yung team work at chemistry namin. Hindi pa rin kami bumitaw. And that’s Letran,” he said.
“Pinakita namin sa kanila na hangga’t hindi pa natatapos ang laban, andun pa rin kami, lumalaban at pinipilit na ipanalo ang game," added Nambatac.