For the historic fifth straight time, San Miguel are the king of the Philippine Cup.
The Beermen’s championship only added to the growing ring collection of their championship core of June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross.
For others – including Terrence Romeo, Paul Zamar, and Christian Standhardinger – it was their first ever in Asia’s oldest professional league.
But apparently, they weren’t the only ones. Former journeyman Kelly Nabong, for his own part, also rose as a fitting title holder, at last.
“It’s my first championship ever in my life,” said Nabong.
“It’s my first one. My first one ever. It’s really sweet. I love it.”
Nabong entered the PBA back in 2012 as the 17th overall pick. He had the sole mission of winning a championship ring after not tasting it since he played in Sacramento, California.
The 6-foot-6 banger, however, discovered the dream was a giant mountain to climb as a PBA title proved elusive for him, with stops in Meralco, Globalport, Meralco, and back to Globalport in his first six years.
Nabong’s journey was a roller-coaster ride marred by failures and heartaches. He suffered plenty of heartache before his fortunes changed last year with a life-changing trade to a champion team like San Miguel.
The Beermen traded for Nabong, letting go of veteran Gabby Espinas and their 2020 second round pick to Northport.
Two conferences since, Nabong is finally a PBA champion – something he still cannot believe is true following a long journey.
“My chest hurts. I still can’t believe it,” said Nabong after a loud and long shout to cry his championship emotion. “Man, it’s a hell of a feeling. I can’t wait to feel it again.”
On the court, Nabong only saw limited action in the Finals, but there’s no denying of his contributions off it. He was also influential inside the locker room, as he helped keep the Beermen poised and bound at the height of a thrilling seven-game duel against Magnolia.
That role was crucial for SMB and telling for Nabong, who now can’t wait to embrace another ring in the future.
“There’s only one under my belt. The company has more than one. I just want to be a part of it and add to the collection.”