MANILA - Rain or Shine coach Chris Gavina had no qualms of drawing their final play for Rey Nambatac, even though the guard was cold off the bench in their game against San Miguel Beer.
Nambatac sat at the 8:35 mark of the fourth quarter, and didn't return until there were only 12 seconds left with the game tied at 93. Despite cooling his heels at the bench for long minutes, Nambatac was ready -- and Gavina wanted the ball to go to him in the closing seconds.
"I'd already designed a play where he would get the ball at the top of the key or if we got it to the post, it was gonna be a handoff to him," the coach explained after the game.
Their final possession didn't initially go as planned, but the ball still found its way to Nambatac, who then proceeded to drive hard on the baseline and lofted up a tough shot against three San Miguel defenders. Somehow, he got the floater to go, giving the E-Painters a 95-93 advantage with just 2.5 seconds left.
"Rey's playmaking, that was on him. I got him the ball, and he was the one that was able to go with his instincts and make that game-winning basket for us," said Gavina.
A big stop by rookie Santi Santillan on Terrence Romeo completed the come-from-behind win for Rain or Shine, as they had to claw out of a 13-point hole in the first quarter to secure their sixth win of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup.
Nambatac finished with nine points on 3-of-5 shooting, having played less than 20 minutes in their 95-93 triumph.
Gavina stressed afterward that he had no doubts that Nambatac would be ready to deliver in the endgame.
"I always talk to Rey (about) being ready to be our closer," he said. "Mindset-wise, I could tell he wanted to play."
"I have no fear about getting the ball to Rey's hands, and knowing that he will come up with something that's gonna come out with a positive effect," he added. "That's exactly what happened with that play."
This isn't the first time that Nambatac has emerged as Rain or Shine's hero against San Miguel Beer.
In the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup, he drilled the dagger three-pointer with 12 seconds left to give the Elasto Painters an 85-81 lead over the Beermen. ROS went on to win, 87-83.