People can say whatever they want about Rey Nambatac, and the Letran Knights wing man wouldn’t mind.
He stopped listening a long time ago.
All the criticism, doubt, and negative comments spiked by a lethargic Game 2 performance was not able to break Nambatac, and only added fuel to the fire instead.
“Yun yung motivation ko,” Nambatac shared after the Letran Knights repulsed the San Beda Red Lions, 85-82 Thursday to win their 17th overall title.
Having to deal with a lot of adversity throughout the season, the valiant Nambatac was already at a point where challenges didn’t seem to bother him. Those stretches only toughened his character as a player, and it paid off in the most crucial game of his basketball career yet.
“Kung ano yung mga binato nila sa akin noong Game Two, binalik ko lang. Wala na silang masabi at salamat sa kanila dahil gumanda ang laro ko at makapagfocus ako. Pinrove ko sila na mali sila,” he said.
“Offseason, walang naniwala sa amin, sa totoo lang. Nasa pinakababa kami, inunti-unti namin na i-prove sa kanila, at ito kami ngayon, champion.”
Adversity wouldn’t leave Nambatac until the end of the season, as he also shared how he suffered from an ankle injury during Game 2, although he played through the pain.
“Hindi ko na naramdaman (during) Game 2. After the game naramdaman ko. Pero hindi ako nakaramdam ng takot. Panatag loob ko na makakalaro ako,” he said.
Nambatac admits the entire squad got overly to close the series out, although even that served as a challenge for them to overcome.
“Kating-kati na kami. Gusto na naming tapusin agad. Peri sabi ni coach, lahat ng gusto namin, walang madali, dadaan kami sa matinding pagsubok.”
Letran’s rise as a contender which won seven straight games to a champion that ousted the Red Lions dynasty, Nambatac says, starts with believing in each individual. And head coach Aldin Ayo was at the forefront of helping Letran realize what they could put up as a team.
“Wala siyang ibang sinabi kundi trust yourself and believe in yourself. Ako naniwala ako na kaya kong magbounce back,” the Smart Elite ambassador said.
“Si Coach Aldin, grabe ang tiwala siya sa bawat isa sa amin. Hindi niyo makikita yan na nagwawala. Alam niya na kung sino ipapasok niya, magpapakita. Siya yung coach na grabe magmotivate sa amin.”
And so when Nambatac headed to the free throw line again for Game 3, there was no more doubt in himself, and it felt normal again for the wing man.
“Kumpiyansa na ako sa sarili ko na masho-shoot ko yun compared noong Game 2 na doubt na sa sarili ko na hindi masho-shoot e. Yung team inisip agad magchampion, hindi na namin naisip yung mga gagawin muna namin sa court,”he said.
Letran ended its ten-year drought atop the NCAA podium, and with the impending departure of Kevin Racal and Mark Cruz, Nambatac has a bigger responsibility to shoulder in the next seasons.
But being the courageous player he always is, Nambatac is ready for the next challenge.
“Bubuhatin ko na yung mundo,” he joked.