MER 81 – PHO 66
I still remember the first time I watched Baser Amer. It was one of his first games in the NCAA. There was a lot of hype surrounding this kid, with some even saying he was as good as Kiefer Ravena.
He looked like a scrawny kid wearing the San Beda red and white. I had to look twice and make sure that I was watching was the same player everyone was talking about. It didn’t take long though for me to recognize that the hype was real.
The opening whistle blew and he immediately took control of the game. He looked like such a poised and controlled player. He never got flustered even if everyone on the court was bigger and older than him. He ran their offense perfectly. Amer drove to the lane and once he got in, picked apart the defense with his passing. He managed the team and had a hand in seemingly every possession.
Amer just got better from then. He was the Chris Paul of the NCAA.
He started games out by distributing the ball and getting his teammates in rhythm. But in the final minutes, he would start getting his own buckets. Amer would get into the paint but instead of dish the ball, he’d finish with a floater or a nifty layup. Those baskets by Amer were often game-changing. The Red Lions often needed his scoring in the final minutes to pull away for the win.
Amer was drafted as someone who could orchestrate the offense for the Meralco Bolts. He was needed by his team to facilitate things for the rest of the scorers on the team, guys like Jared Dilliger, Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge.
Unfortunately, Amer’s transition to the PBA wasn’t as smooth as his transition from High School to College. He struggled with the size and the speed of the league. It wasn’t as easy for him to get into the lane anymore when a player like Marc Pingris or Calvin Abueva switched on to him. He couldn’t use just his raw talents anymore.
Lucky for Amer, Coach Norman Black was patient with him. He was brought off the bench as a point guard who could change the pace of the game and pester opposing guards. Amer continued to work on his game and improve his body. He worked alongside Jimmy Alapag, learning from the legend.
This conference, Amer is finally breaking out.
The Meralco Bolts are a fluid and versatile team. They have multiple players that can handle the ball and create for the rest of the team. Because of that, the burden of running the offense doesn’t solely fall on Amer anymore. He can concentrate on playing within the system and taking what the defense gives him. As a result, Amer is the leading local scorer, scoring 16.5 points per game in eight games. He’s also improved his playmaking, dishing out 4.3 assists.
Against the Phoenix Fuel Masters, Amer led all players in scoring with 20 points. He scored half of his points in the final quarter, helping Meralco bury Phoenix for the win. Amer was almost unstoppable getting into the lane. The same scoring mastery he showcased in college was on display. He was firing up floaters and mid-range jumpers off the screen or getting deep into the paint for layups.
Amer’s hard work and patience is finally paying off. He looks more comfortable against bigger, older opponents. He’s one of the biggest reasons for Meralco’s resurgence this conference. His performance against Phoenix helped deliver Meralco’s seventh win and a slot in the playoffs. The Hammer will continue to play a big role for the surging Bolts.