Thoughts: The Kelly Nabong suspension


Are you the guy who would rather play for a bad squad and claim every individual accolade there is to win… or are you the guy who is willing to sacrifice his numbers for the sake of team glory?


Meralco big man Kelly Nabong is suspended indefinitely for an alleged spat with assistant coach Jimmy Alapag that resulted to actions unbecoming of a professional basketball player. Apparently, Nabong is unhappy with his playing time.


Sure, it’s laughable to compare Nabong with Kyrie Irving but as per his recent ESPN interview, I think these players are in the same boat.


I can’t really say that Norman Black is the Lebron James of this situation (or in this case, it’s probably Jimmy Alapag) but keeping Nabong off the court leads me to believe that either the coach or one of his main deputies are the ones causing Nabong to act as such.


Just believe me when I say this… since I have a faulty internet connection at the moment and it’s difficult for me to check on my past articles from the previous blog sites I worked on… but I couldn’t believe Nabong fell in the second round of the 2012 PBA Draft despite acting as one of the studs for the Cebuana Lhuillier Gems. Apparently, teams stayed away from Nabong because he had a certain “attitude”. From getting accolades as a scorer though, Nabong became known in the PBA as a defensive enforcer who would have a good offensive game from time to time. Instead of stinking up the joint, he flourished doing the dirty work and there was a time when he became a sought after find because of his mastery. One could compare him to a lite version of Dennis Rodman – who was a scorer during his college days only to transform as an eccentric defender.


Just transpose the hair patch on his back with The Worm’s signature hairstyle.


Or perhaps an athletic Freddie Abuda?


Attitude is a major thing in sports because you know… it leads to good working relationships. But I have seen people thrive in tension and players like Nabong perform better when they are intense and excited and passionate and… like a madman.  




Black doesn’t like to tolerate dudes with attitudes. More than a decade ago, he figured in some sort of mutiny that forced him to vacate his position as coach of the Sta. Lucia Realtors. It took the grand slam coach a decade to re-emerge in the PBA but that was after he became a coaching imba with the Ateneo Blue Eagles. I guess one of his vows upon his return is to never let a player besmirch his status again.


A couple of years ago, a Gary David tantrum saw the former Mythical First Teamer head to career limbo. David hated the idea of limited playing time and when Black asked the former to head to the scorer’s table, David shrugged the grand slam coach and made an excuse. I guess David had an injury… we’ll never know… but if this was his Powerade version, not even cramps could excuse his being from playing rough and tumble basketball from start to finish. This isn’t a one-game deal though as a frustrated David has apparently had enough after seeing his minutes dwindle game after game after game after posting noteworthy numbers during the 2015-16 PBA Philippine Cup. David would ask for his release and Meralco would give it to him by dropping his name to free agency. David would then land on a stacked San Miguel squad. El Granada sat helplessly as the Beermen would finish the 2015-16 PBA season without the title he yearned for and after that season, he was unceremoniously released.


Sure, David hasn’t announced his retirement… yet… but given how bad he played for the Mahindra Floodbuster – of all teams – is enough to call it career despite becoming one of a few to end their careers without a conference title to own.


Did he even made the team when it changed its name to Kia Picanto?




Meralco has its sights on their first ever PBA championship. If you count Sta. Lucia’s titles and probably the titles Great Taste/Presto got during the Allan Caidic era, this genealogy is good for just four titles in a span of thirty years.  


Yes… thirty years!


And Kelly Nabong will turn 29 this November!




If Nabong thinks he’s good enough to get at least 30 minutes of action, then he could head to Kia once his contract is up. Maybe he could be one of the names the MVP group could insert to sweeten the deal for the rights of Christian Standhardinger in the 2017 PBA Draft. But if that’s the case, I guess Nabong needs to apologize and at least do whatever it takes to help the Bolts win their first title. I know accepting defeat is a tough pill to swallow but he needs to realize what he is giving up in the process.


But as for Black, he also needs to know why they got to where they are and what Nabong brings to his team. I know Nabong isn’t all that especially since he plays the same position as Allen Durham, Ranidel de Ocampo, Cliff Hodge, Reynel Hugnatan, and the other players beneath him in the proverbial rotation totem pole, but if Meralco is in dire need of intensity, then Nabong is going to give it to them. And this is probably good for team chemistry as well.


Either way, Nabong will have his name etched in the annals if the Bolts go on to win the championship. Now it’s his decision to sulk in one spot or play a major role to give Black no other alternative but to give him the spotlight until he begs for a breather.


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