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Rey Nambatac posts career-high in assists as Blackwater edges Meralco in PBA PH Cup opener

Rey Nambatac reintroduced himself with a career game assist-wise. PBA Images
By Ivan Saldajeno

ANTIPOLO—Rey Nambatac exploded in his first game in a Blackwater jersey as his new team opened the PBA Philippine Cup with a 96-93 win against Meralco on Wednesday night at the Ynares Center.

Nambatac played as if he is already the Bossing's main gunner in just his first game with them since the Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters traded him there, dropping 27 points on the Bolts.

However, more importantly, he finished with a career-high in assists after also tallying 10 dimes.

The defining moment, though, came with 18.4 seconds left when he made two free throws that doused some cold water in Meralco's comeback attempt.

Up 86-67 with 7:58 left, Blackwater found itself just holding to a one-point lead, 94-93, after Allein Maliksi came alive and scored 17 of Meralco's last 19 points.

The Bolts had a crack at taking a late lead after Mike Digregorio missed a layup, but Richard Escoto grabbed the offensive rebound, paving the way for Nambatac to score his two clutch free throws.

Meralco decided to hand Maliksi the green light for the potential game-tying three, but the defense tightened up on him, forcing him to a contested left-corner three that rimmed out.

Nambatac grabbed the rebound, his fifth in total, and Digregorio was able to run the clock until the final horn.

Troy Rosario added 15 points, four rebounds, two assists, and one steal for the Bossing, who won for the first time since their season-opener during the Commissioner's Cup against the Converge FiberXers.

Nambatac's fellow former ROS star James Yap had five points and one rebound in nearly 13 minutes of action in his own Blackwater debut.

Maliksi also finished with 27 points, 20 in the fourth, four rebounds, three assists, and one steal for Meralco.

The Scores:

BLACKWATER 96 – Nambatac 27, Rosario 15, Suerte 11, Hill 10, DiGregorio 9, David 7, Escoto 6, Guinto 5, Yap 5, Jopia 1, Ilagan 0, Kwekuteye 0, Sena 0

MERALCO 93 – Maliksi 27, Newsome 16, Jose 10, Mendoza 10, Black 10, Hodge 6, Banchero 5, Quinto 3, Bates 3, Torres 3, Caram 0, Pasaol 0, Pascual 0

QUARTERS: 18-26, 43-41, 72-62, 96-93

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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