MANILA, Philippines - Caloy Garcia believes he has the building blocks of Rain or Shine's future in place, with the tandem of Rey Nambatac and Javee Mocon.
Taken in back-to-back drafts, Nambatac and Mocon have shown that they can contribute to the Elasto Painters despite their youth. Mocon, selected with the sixth pick of the 2018 draft, made an immediate impact, averaging 8.18 points and 7.45 rebounds in his very first conference with ROS.
Nambatac, the seventh overall pick in 2017, showed his improvement gradually, but by the time the 2019 Governors' Cup rolled around, it was clear he had grown into his role with the team. In the third conference, he averaged 13.10 points -- the most among the team's locals -- along with 5.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
"I think si Rey and si Javee, I think they're gonna be like, the future of the PBA," Garcia said during an appearance on "2OT," presented by SMART. "Iba trabaho nila eh, when they come to practice."
Garcia recalled that they were questioned when they drafted Mocon. A 6-foot-3 forward out of San Beda, Mocon had won Finals MVP in his last season with the Red Lions, but was considered a tweener in the PBA.
"He's a big man in the NCAA, tapos he's too small for the PBA," said Garcia. "But we challenged him."
"We said we see a lot in how he plays, 'yung basketball IQ niya, his work ethic, the way he works hard every time in the game," he added. "When the drafting came, we didn't expect him to be in that position, sa No. 6."
Mocon eventually made it to the All-Rookie team last year, joining Rookie of the Year CJ Perez, former San Beda teammate Robert Bolick, Abu Tratter, and Ray Parks Jr. Garcia was not surprised to see him rank among the best in his class immediately.
The coach explained that Mocon had the opportunity to play when veteran guard James Yap had to sit out in the All-Filipino Cup due to an injury. Still, Mocon had to earn his minutes, and he did so in their practices.
"Maganda attitude ng bata eh. So every game, he competes. That's the thing that we want, every player to compete in every game," said Garcia. "We don't want na papasok ka sa game, thinking na relax muna tayo."
"Hindi, there's no relax sa amin, it's more of compete every time, and Javee does that every day even in practice," he added.
Nambatac, meanwhile, was already a known commodity to Garcia. He had coached the guard when he was a rookie with the Letran Knights, and tracked his development throughout college. Garcia liked Nambatac's tenacity on the defensive end, and he encouraged the player to develop his three-point shooting.
"The nice thing about him is, he works, he develops his three-point shot, may mga step-back pa 'yan na na-develop," said Garcia.
"The thing that I had a hard time from the beginning, noong rookie siya was transforming him to be a point guard. Kasi, he got used to playing the 2-spot," he revealed.
In his second season in the league, Nambatac accepted his coach's challenge, and Garcia said he was proud to see how the guard has transformed his game.
"He's a totally different player now," Garcia said of Nambatac. "He's above anybody else in our team right now, he can be the scorer, when he needs to score in the end, pwede sa kanya ibigay 'yung bola."
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