For the past five games, stingy defense, and relentless effort has been the driving force behind Letran’s current winning streak. What adds more flavor to it is that a different player suddenly steps up in each of their games.
In their game against CSB, it was Mark Cruz leading the defense. In the following game against JRU, it was Rey Nambatac disrupting everything. In their rivalry match against San Beda, it was McJour Luib rattling the defending champions’ rhythm. The same theme would continue in the next games. And for their recent win against the Perpetual Altas, it was Nambatac being his disruptive self once again.
“Super blessed kami at masaya. Start pa lang ng game hindi namin expected na mananalo kami. So ang expected namin is it is going to be a tough game. Alam naman natin na ang Perpetual hindi susuko,” Nambatac shared to Tiebreaker Times. “Pero we stick to the system especially on defense. Ang defense namin kasi doon kami nabubuhay.”
In addition, Nambatac punched in a solid stat line of 15 points, seven rebounds, two assists, five steals, and a block in their win against the Altas.
More than his flashy numbers, Nambatac spent most of his time guarding Perpetual combo guard Scottie Thompson. Knowing that he is due to explode for a triple-double if he got his way, Nambatac took the challenge and made him work hard for every point he scored.
Still, Thompson still managed to produce his usual numbers after finishing with 22 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. However, Nambatac forced last season’s most valuable player to contested shots and errors. During his time on the floor, Thompson only shot 36 percent from the field and he committed seven turnovers.
Furthermore, big man Bright Akhuetie was not his usual dominating self, as he also fell prey to the Letran defense, which limited him to only seven points, six rebounds, and two assists in 16 minutes of action. He only committed a total of four shots in the game, and nailed only 2 of them.
“Nagclick ang defense namin kay Thompson at lalo na kay Akhuetie. Sabi nga namin ang Perpetual nagrerely lang iyan sa dalawang tao. Kaming mga guards, nag-usap kami at sabi ko magpalit-palit tayo at pagurin natin sila,” Nambatac added. “Alam natin na mapapagod at mapapagod sila. Masaya kami na third quarter pa lang wala na rin [sa rhythm] si Akhuetie. Wala kaming import at hindi tayo ganoon kalaki. Tayo ang pinakamaliit na team. Doon mo makikita ang teamwork namin sa kanilang dalawa.”
Now, another perennial contender awaits the Knights as they are set to take on Jiovani Jalalon and the streaking Arellano University Chiefs this coming July 31, 4:00 pm, at the Filoil Flying V Arena.
“Mabigat din iyon kasi may Jiovani Jalalon sila. Si Jalalon parang robot dahil hindi napapagod. Alam namin kung paano namin sila babantayan and we have one week to prepare. Pag-aaralan namin ang Arellano,” Nambatac ended.