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Kelly Nabong returns to NorthPort, SMB takes Russel Escoto in trade

Kelly Nabong will play for NorthPort for the third time. PBA Media Group (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Another shock trade took place on Thursday when the PBA announced the Kelly Nabong-Russel Escoto swap.

In the approved deal, Nabong will make his way back to NorthPort, while Escoto will now suit up for San Miguel.

A second round pick in the 2012 draft, Nabong bounced around the Batang Pier and the Meralco Bolts in his first six seasons.

But the trend ended on June 21, 2018 when he was shipped to the Beermen for Gabby Espinas and a 2020 second rounder.

Nabong became a solid backup for June Mar Fajardo and even Chris Standhardinger at the center and the power forward spots due to his tenacity and range, helping SMB win the 2019 Philippine Cup and Commissioner's Cup titles.

However, the stint of Nabong, who is infamously known for his temper, with the team went a sour turn when he had an altercation with Arwind Santos during practice, leading to an indefinite suspension slapped by the team on them and Ronald Tubid.

The trade apparently stemmed from the said fracas.

Nabong will reunite with Standhardinger at NorthPort, and the former is expected to play backup to the latter again.

Meanwhile, Escoto saw his career slowly rising when he joined the Batang Pier following an injury prone stint with the Columbian Dyip in his first three seasons.

The 27-year-old Escoto, who can also light it up from beyond the arc like Nabong, will shore up the Beermen's frontline and will add some youthfulness to the lineup especially that Santos, who was cleared to practice again, is already aging.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno