Filling up the shoes left by crafty playmaker and undisputed leader Jimmy Alapag is tougher than it seems for any of the remaining Meralco guards.
Second-year guard Baser Amer, however, is confident he and the rest of the Bolts’ playmakers can achieve that—as long as they put in ample amount of work day in and day out.
That’s exactly what happened on Friday night when the the six-foot Amer produced his finest offensive performance yet in the course of Meralco’s solid 94-86 win over Mahindra in the opener of the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The former San Beda College standout sizzled with a career-best 19 points, spiked by three triples, while collecting three rebounds, as many assists and the same number of steals in more than 29 minutes of efficient play that left Meralco coach Norman Black beaming no end.
“He has really matured in between the two conferences,” said Black of Amer, their seventh overall pick in the 2015 rookie draft. “He seems to have a better grasp of the PBA—on what he can do and he can’t do. He came out to play today.”
Amer, unassuming like he’s ever been, readily toned down Black’s assessment.
But the proud Davao City native admitted he’s certainly putting into his heart the continuos lesson and advice that he’s been getting from Alapag, who called it quits for the second time after leading the Bolts to the franchise’s first Finals appearance in last season’s Governors Cup.
“Sinasabi lang niya (Alapag) sa akin that this is my time. Hindi naman madali mapunan ‘yung pagkawala niya. Dahan-dahanin ko lang daw tapos pag-aralan ‘yung sistema ng team,” said Amer, who’s sharing the playmaking chores with versatile guard Chris Newsome and third-stringer Anjo Caram.
“Naging leader lang ako sa loob. ‘Yun kasi ang kulang sa team, so kailangan namin maging leader nila Chris and Anjo. Para mapasunod namin sila sa mga gusto ni coach.”
Asked about his solid all-around showing, Amer said: “Naging aggressive lang ako on offense and defense. Siguro (nag-paid off ‘yung hard work) kasi lahat talaga nag-i-start sa practice. Kailangan sa practice go hard na talaga.”
Still, Amer shared the credit to his fellow Bolts after returning to practice since getting eliminated early in the season-opening Philippine Cup.
“Trinabaho lang namin ‘tong laro namin. Maaga kami nag-practice. Nag-trabaho lang kami sa practice. We help each other, and sabi ni coach kailangan namin manalo ngayon dahil game namin sunod sunod. Kailangan makaipon kami ng panalo para ‘yung level of confidence namin tumaas,” he said.
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