Passerelle teammates in Davao, Amer and Pinto clash in the NCAA as San Beda and Arellano begin title showdown
Baser Amer and Nard Pinto were once teammates in a youth league in Davao but now collide for the NCAA crown. Jerome Ascano

TWO proud sons of Davao City will be on opposing sides in a battle of playmakers leading their respective teams in the 90th NCAA men’s basketball Finals.

San Beda’s Baser Amer and Nard John Pinto of Arellano, who hold the keys to each team’s offense, clash in an interesting title series starting on Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Both point guards are products of Holy Child school, where they played one passerelle season together.

“Isa sa mga idol ko yan ’dun,” Amer said with a smile in a chat with after Lions practice. “Pag training nila, lagi ako nanonood sa kanila kasi parang ginagaya ko yung moves niya.”

“Isa siya sa pinakamagaling ’dun sa Holy Child,” he added. “Sikat si Pinto sa Davao.”

But it was Amer who saw the bright lights of Manila first after getting discovered by San Beda when he was a high school junior and went on to become an NCAA juniors MVP and two-time champion.

Pinto finished high school at nearby Holy Cross school and spent a year in college there before Arellano recruited him.

“Nung nasa Holy Child kami, bata pa siya at mas matanda ako, so parang ako yung nangunguna ’dun kasi hindi pa na-develop yung skills niya,” Pinto, who turned 24 on October 15, said.

“Syempre iba na si Amer ngayon,” he was quick to add of his 22-year-old counterpart. “Sobrang galing na. Siya na nagdadala sa team.”

Now, they face off in the biggest stage of college basketball.

“Masaya ako kasi dati idol ko lang siya nung bata pa kami tapos ngayon magkalaban na,” said Amer, who was actually one of the people whom Pinto sought encouragement from to take the Manila plunge when the Chiefs were courting him.

“Sana galingan nila, pero gagalingan din namin, kasi Finals na yan eh,” the fourth-year floor general added. “Wala munang kaibi-kaibigan.”  

Pinto posted better numbers than Amer in the elimination round, where the former normed 11.9 points, 5.1 assists, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.3 steals in 24.1 minutes, while his counterpart registered 11.6 points, 4.7 assists, 2.8 boards, and one steal in 28.4 minutes.

“Kung sinong pinakamagandang nagpa-kundisyon (sa amin), yun ang mananalo,” said Pinto, the PBA-bound cager, who’s hoping to end his collegiate career with a bang.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos