MANILA, Philippines – When the Meralco Bolts made it back to the finals of the PBA Governors' Cup, they did so without one member of their team.
Big man Kelly Nabong was suspended indefinitely by Meralco after he was seen getting into a heated argument with assistant coach Jimmy Alapag during Game 1 of their semifinals series against the Star Hotshots.
The Bolts went on to beat Star in the semis before losing to Barangay Ginebra in a finals rematch. Nabong, however, never played another minute for them again in the conference.
The Filipino-American big man has moved past the incident that clouded the end of the previous season, however.
"It's okay. Everything happens for a reason," he said on Thursday. "I don't keep any grudges. It's all my fault. I lost my temper a little bit, but that's my fault."
"I'm trying to learn from my mistake, which I did, and I'm trying to move on from it," he added.
Nabong revealed that he has not been in contact with anyone from the Meralco franchise ever since the incident, but hoped that they, too, will move on. "It's okay, it's all right," he said. "I hope they forgave me. I forgave them."
Instead of dwelling on what happened last conference, Nabong is putting all his attention on his new team. He signed a two-year deal with GlobalPort, where he played for three seasons before being traded to the Bolts.
"I'm in a great position right now with GlobalPort," Nabong beamed, after helping the Batang Pier beat Magnolia, 83-80, in a preseason game.
"They got a great management, a great head coach. We got a lot of good guys on the team, a lot of rookies. It's going to be an exciting season," he said.
The 6-foot-6 forward said he has taken a leadership role with GlobalPort, as the team features many young big men who can use some mentoring. Aside from Nabong, the Batang Pier also have Bradwyn Guinto, Lervin Flores, Joseph Gabayni, and Andreas Cahilig in their frontline.
"I'm trying to coach the rookies a little bit on how to play defense, when to take open shots. Coach Pido (Jarencio) is about the run and gun offense, so if you got the open shot, take it," he said. "If you don't, move the ball, move the ball. That's pretty much it."
Nabong's return to GlobalPort started smoothly. He had 14 points in their come-from-behind win over Magnolia on Thursday, and even hit the go-ahead triple with 1:44 left to play off a pass by Stanley Pringle.
"We started off real slow," he said after the game. "No rebounds, a lot of turnovers."
"But during halftime, Coach Pido put his foot in our behind a little bit, so we came out in the second half and we started to play GlobalPort basketball."
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