Taking on veteran playmaker Jimmy Alapag during Meralco’s practice brings out the best from sophomore guard Anjo Caram.
The 5-foot-7 Caram provided a big spark off the bench in the second half, tallying all of his 11 points, before Meralco dropped a 94-97 decision to Alaska in the opener of their best-of-five PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals series on Monday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Although he outplayed Alapag who managed just two markers and three assists against a pair of errors in 19 minutes, Caram admitted that the Gilas Pilipinas standout remains as one of the reasons for his continuous improvement.
“Nakakalaban ko siya everyday sa practice kaya may natututunan ako,” said Caram, now in his third season in the pro league since being drafted by the Bolts at 26th overall during the 2013 Rookie Draft.
Asked how can he describe Alapag, a six-time pro league champion, Caram nearly used all the superlatives.
“Mahirap bantayan, mautak at matalino maglaro,” he said.
More than the numbers, Caram stressed the leadership being provided by Alapag to him and the younger Bolts, including fellow San Beda standout Baser Amer, is paramount.
“Sobrang laki ng impluwensiya niya kasi alam naman natin na si Jimmy, marami nang naipanalo na championships at matagal na rin siya sa liga. So malaking bagay ‘yung guidance niya sa amin ni Baser at sa buong team. ‘Yung leadership niya talaga ang nakakatulong sa amin,” said Caram.
“Tatlo na kaming point guard sa Bolts so nagtutulungan kami. Kung sino ang ipapasok ni coach (Norman Black), ginagawa lang ‘yung best at game plan. Ang importante lang manalo,” he added.
Caram said “breaks of the game” did them in late in their loss to the Aces but vowed they will bounce back in Game 2 on Wednesday also at the Big Dome.
“Bawi kami sa Game 2,” he said. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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