ENTER Rey Nambatac — again.
Nambatac nailed two pressure-packed free throws with 1.3 seconds left to lift Rain or Shine to a heart-stopping 70-68 win over NorthPort and a share of the lead in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports Arena and Cultural Center.
Nambatac’s game-winning free throws came after Kelly Nabong and Christian Standhardinger hit back-to-back baskets in the final minute to tie the score for the last time at 68-all.
But Nambatac, the hero in Rain or Shine’s 87-83 win over defending champion San Miguel Beer last Oct. 13, was fouled by Paolo Taha.
Rookie Adrian Wong topscored for the E-Painters with 15 points, while Sidney Onwubere added 11 points and five rebounds.
Nambatac contributed 10 points, including 2-of-9 from the field and 6-of-7 from the free throw line.
Standhardinger led the Batang Pier with his third triple double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Sean Anthony added 13 points.
“Ever since he was my player at Letran, I’ve seen that he has the guts to take big shots,” said Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia, tegerring to Namvstac, who had winning moments in all three E-Painters’ victories in the bubble.
Garcia admitted both teams played ugly, but mentioned Wong and Clint Doliguez for their contributions in the win.
“It was an ugly win for us. I know we can better. We will review what went wrong. Maybe tinsmaan ma din ng psgod because it was our third straight game,” explained Garcia.
It was a low-scoring battle marred by an atrocious shooting performance after halftime.
Rain or Shine scored 14 points in the third quarter while NorthPort only had two points, tying a league record for fewest points in a period.
Meanwhile, Talk N Text and Phoenix LPG meet today in a battle of unbeaten teams at 4 p.m.
The Tropang Giga will be gunning for their fourth straight win, although they have to do it now minus Roger Pogoy.
Pogoy suffered an ankle sprain in their 107-88 win over San Miguel last Friday.
The Fuel Masters also went 2-0 in the bubble thanks in part to the superb games of Matthew Wright and Jason Perkins.
In the second game, San Miguel hopes to recover lost ground when it takes on Terrafirma at 6:45 p.m.
Rain or Shine (70) –Wong 15, Onwubere 11, Nambatac 10, Mocon 6, Doliguez 6, Belga 5, Yap 5, Torres 5, Araña 3, Ponferada 2, Norwood 2, Rosales 0, Rivero 0, Borboran 0. NorthPort (68) — Anthony 13, Standhardinger 13, Lanete 13, Nabong 10, Revilla 7, Taha 4, Cruz 3, Manganti 3, Elorde 2, Subido 0, Guinto 0. Quarterscores: 14-25, 32-38, 46-40, 70-68.
(AUF Sports Arena and Cultural Center)
4 p.m. — Talk n Text vs. Phoenix
6:45 p.m. — Terrafirma vs San Miguel