Perhaps the key to why Rain or Shine is up 2-0 early in the 46th PBA Season is because of Kobe Bryant.
Rain or Shine coach Chris Gavina took inspiration from the late Lakers legend with some of his players challenging Rey Nambatac and Javee Mocon to embrace the Kobe Mentality for their leadership roles in the squad.
Nambatac and Mocon combined for 33 points, both on a double-double performance, to lead the Elasto Painters past the Blackwater Bossing, 71-62, in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City on Sunday night, July 18.
“You know our roles have kind of just organically established themselves as to the past two months and our team just kind of bought into one another,” said Gavina in a post-match press conference. “They know Rey and Javee have that kind of capability of being our stars.
“We did a Kobe Mentality challenge recently at practice and a lot of their teammates really challenged them to have the courage to take over where we needed them to and so far those two have embraced that identity for our team,” added the newly-installed tactician.
Nambatac led Rain or Shine with 21 points, 12 rebounds, and a steal on a five-of-nine shooting from the field and eight-of-10 from the free-throw line.
Mocon, for his part, posted 12 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
Gavina said he’s been urging Nambatac to take on the role much like Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns and Jrue Holiday of the Milwaukee Bucks in the PBA — in short, as a star player.
“He (Nambatac) loves the pressure. He’s built for it. He’s kind of… for the past few years, he’s grown and developed and his confidence has come a long way,” said the Rain or Shine mentor.
“I think he knows now that he’s starting to separate himself in regard to being able to take over a game and he likes it. So [I am] hoping he can continue that mindset as we move forward.”
Last season, during the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup bubble conference, Nambatac averaged 8.55 points, 3.00 assists, 2.91 rebounds, and 1.18 steals while Mocon topped the team’s scoring leaderboard with 12.00 points, 7.09 rebounds, 2.64 assists, 1.27 steals, and 1.18 blocks.
The Elasto Painters are currently tied with the Meralco Bolts atop the standings with a 2-0 record.