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PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF PBA REY Nambatac drops 27 points and 10 assists to lead Blackwater to a 96-93 win over Meralco in the opening salvo of the PBA Philippine Cup yesterday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

It didn’t take long for Rey Nambatac to prove his real worth.

Nambatac delivered a red-hot performance, lifting Blackwater to a 96-93 win over Meralco in his first game with the team in the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup yesterday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

Nambatac, who was acquired by the Bossing from Rain or Shine in a trade that involved a pair of future picks, delivered 27 points and 10 assists while draining a pair of charities in the final 19.3 seconds that sealed the victory.

“What I like about Rey is everything about him,” said Blackwater coach Jeffrey Cariaso, whose wards won only once in 11 games in the previous Commissioner’s Cup, prompting them to shake things up and add Nambatac, veteran gunner James Yap, Jaydee Tungcab, and Justin Chua in the off-season.

“Rey is a player who has something to prove and when you have a guy like that who wants to prove himself each and every day in practice, you will never go wrong.”

True enough, that’s exactly what happened with Nambatac and the Bossing.

The former Letran College star quickly made his presence felt, scoring and facilitating, making the Bossing one of the most exciting teams this conference.

Around early in the fourth period, the lefty guard was already flirting a double-double performance as he set up veteran Troy Rosario for a three-pointer that put the Bossing ahead, 75-62.

Nambatac completed the double-double in the 9:15 mark of the fourth quarter after setting up Yap, who nailed a three-pointer that put Blackwater comfortably ahead, 81-67.

The Bossing posted their biggest lead, 86-67, with still less than eight minutes left, but Allein Maliksi went on a scoring spree as he unloaded 20 of his 27 points in the final period, including a triple that put Meralco within striking distance, 94-93, with 57 seconds left in regulation.

But Nambatac presided over in the last 19 seconds, coming away with two pressure-packed free throws and picked a steal from Cliff Hodge at the other end to preserve the victory.

“We’re happy with the win, but we’re humble about it,” Cariaso said.

“We were up against a veteran team which knows how to play in situations like this.”

“I think the fourth quarter when we lost the big lead is something that we have to look at and that’s where we have to be better.”

For Nambatac, it’s all about repaying the trust given to him.

“I think this is the highest number of assists I had in seven years of playing in the PBA and that should be attributed to the trust and confidence given to me,” Nambatac, who also went perfect from the charity stripe with 12 free throws, said.

“My teammates were giving me the opportunity and made me even better.”

Backing up Nambatac was Rosario, who contributed 15 points, while Rey Suerte chipped in 11 and Tyrus Hill contributed 10 for the Bossing.

The scores:

BLACKWATER (96) — Nambatac 27, Rosario 15, Suerte 11, Hill 10, DiGregorio 9, David 7, Escoto 6, Guinto 5, Yap 5, Jopia 1.

MERALCO (93) — Maliksi 27, Newsome 16, Black 10, Mendoza 10, Jose 10, Hodge 6, Banchero 5, Torres 3, Bates 3, Quinto 3.

QUARTERS: 18-26, 43-41, 72-62, 96-93.

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