Blackwater in hot start

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Blackwater in hot start
Rey Nambatac explodes for 27 points in his Blackwater debut.
PBA Media Burea

ANTIPOLO, Philippines — Feeling right at home with Blackwater, Rey Nambatac quickly made a big impact for his new team.

Producing a sizzling 27-point, 10-assist performance, the new trade acquisition sparked the Bossing to a 96-93 upset of Meralco to kickstart their PBA Season 48 Philippine Cup campaign yesterday at the Ynares Center.

Nambatac capped his game-long brilliance with six pressure-packed free throws in the last 3:24 that helped the Bossing fend off Meralco’s furious rally from 19 points down and seal the opening-day win.

Thanks to the former Rain or Shine player, who set a new career high in assists and posted his third double-double performance in the league, Blackwater ended a 10-game skid dating back to the Commissioner’s Cup.

“Nakaka-miss ito,” quipped Nambatac, named “Player of the Game” for the first time in a while, to coach Jeff Cariaso as they entered the pressroom.

“Last time I was here was November pa,” answered Cariaso, referring to the Bossing’s 103-84 romp over Converge last Nov. 8.

The Bossing fell behind by eight in the first canto but got back with a 25-15 exchange in the second. Momentum on their side, Cariaso’s troops wrested control in the second half. With a 9-0 blast starring Nambatac and another new arrival, veteran James Yap, they created an 86-67 separation.

Allein Maliksi’s fire-breathing in late stages sent the Bolts to within one at 94-93 before Nambatac restored a three-point space from the stripe, 19.5 seconds left.

“The thing that’s most exciting about him (Nambatac) is it’s only his first game and we know moving forward, he’s going to get better,” said Cariaso of Nambatac, who had asked his old team ROS for a trade due to dwindling minutes last conference.

“I love the fact he has a chip on his shoulder, he comes in each and every day with something to prove and with a guy like that, you can never go wrong.”

Troy Rosario, now the Blackwater skipper, delivered a solid 15 as Rey Suerte and Tyrus Hill shot 11 and 10, respectively. Yap made five points in 12 minutes, including a booming trey that gave Blackwater an 81-67 spread early in the fourth, in his Bossing debut.

Blackwater spoiled the 27-point, five-triple eruption of Maliksi for the Bolts.

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