Coach Napa: ‘Next year, Letran’s mindset is to become number 1’

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ON THE WAY. Jerrick Balanza, Jeo Ambohot, and Bong Quinto will all be back for Letran next year and will be joined by several prized transferees.

After eight years, Rey Nambatac will no longer be in red and blue.

That is, in the NCAA, at least, as his new team Rain or Shine sports the same colors.

Nonetheless, the Colegio de San Juan de Letran product will be bringing with him his averages of 15.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.9 assists away fromIntramuros.

And yet, even he has no doubt that the Knights will only be a stronger squad next season. “I’m pretty sure they will bounce back hard next year. Para sa akin, ‘di gaano kalaking kawalan na nawala ako kasi ang daming pwedeng mag-fill up ng spot at ng pwesto ko,” he said after their Season 93-ending loss to San Sebastian College-Recoletos a week ago.

He then continued, “Kanina, kahit wala ako sa loob, nandoon pa rin yung toughness at intensity nila. Pinakita nila na kaya nilang manalo kahit wala ako.”

Nambatac was talking about how, despite him being in foul trouble, Letran still had a fighting chance against the Golden Stags in their do-or-die game.

All of that was thanks to the efforts of Bong Quinto and JP Calvo who kept them coming.

Both will be back for their final go-round with the Knights next season and will be flanked by fellow returnees Jeo Ambohot, Jerrick Balanza, and Jeremiah Taladua.

Those key cogs will then be joined by Jeff Napa recruits in former University of the East standout Bonbon Batiller, former College of St. Benilde tower Christian Fajarito, former De La Salle University power player Larry Muyang, one-time Batang Gilas member Fran Yu, and ex-NAASCU gunner Coy Galvelo.

And highlighting just how deep their player pool is, Napa said no one is already certain to be in next year’s NCAA lineup. “Next year, talagang may competition. The talent we have, mabigat yung competition so there’s no assurance kung sino mala-lineup next year,” he said.

Still, it’s safe to say that those who made up most of this year’s core in Quinto, Calvo, Ambohot, Balanza, and Taladua along with big-time transferees in Batiller, Fajarito, Muyang, Yu, and Galvelo will be making the cut.

And that lineup – with skilled bigs in Ambohot, Fajarito, and Muyang; versatile forwards in Balanza and Quinto; and talented guards in Batiller, Calvo, Galvelo, Taladua, and Yu – is, without a doubt, a force to reckon with.

That is exactly why Napa has nothing but high hopes for his third year at the helm in Intramuros. “One thing’s for sure: my target next year is to become a champion. Yun na yung mindset ko,” he shared.

He then continued, “Ang mindset ko ngayon is the Final Four. Next year, our mindset is to become number 1.”

The same sentiment goes for the now-graduated Nambatac. “Nakikita ko na ngayon yung Team B namin and marami dun, may experience na playing in the big leagues. Sigurado ako, nayon pa lang masasabi ko nang magiging matunog ang Letran next year,” he said.

Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.





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