THE improvement doesn’t stop for Baser Amer as he continues to orchestrate the offense of Meralco, starting in the team’s PBA 43 season debut on Wednesday in a Philippine Cup matchup against Blackwater at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Handed the keys to the Bolts’ offense after the retirement of Jimmy Alapag, Amer went on to have a breakout season, only to miss out on the Most Improved Player award that he silently coveted, losing to San Miguel guard Chris Ross.
But the incoming junior playmaker is putting the past behind and looking forward to keep making strides toward his individual – and team – goals.
“Wala na yun,” Amer said in a chat with SPIN.ph on the eve of the Bolts opener against the Elite at 4:15 p.m. “Kailangan na namin mag-move on. Kailangan mag-start ka na naman ng panibago…Yung level ng laro ko, kailangan tumaas, mahatak ko yung mga teammates ko.”
“(But) of course, yung situation talaga namin, gusto lang namin manalo,” he was quick to add. “Yun lang muna yung focus namin every game, kasi pag marami kang iniisip, parang nawawala ka na sa goal mo eh.”
Amer, though, won’t mind winning the Most Improved Player award on his second try – while still leading the team to its targets.
“Of course, gusto ko pa rin mag-Most Improved Player,” the former San Beda star admitted. “Hindi ko titigilan yun, kasi last season sana sayang, medyo kinapos, so this conference naman, i-try kong simulan ulit ng maganda para malay mo, makuha ko na yung gusto kong award.”
“But yung mindset ko always is to help the team para manalo, especially ngayong all-Filipino na talagang bagsak yung performance namin,” he added, considering his team’s underwhelming showings in the past two all-Filipino conferences.
Amer has gained reinforcements in Niño Canaleta, Jason Ballesteros, Mac Baracael, and Nico Salva, who are all expected to chip in for the squad that’s still bannered by Chris Newsome, Jared Dillinger, Cliff Hodge, Ranidel de Ocampo, Reynel Hugnatan, and youngsters Garvo Lanete and Mike Tolomia.
“Tingin ko makakatulong yung mga bagong players,” Amer said. “Ngayon naman, medyo okay naman yung roster namin. nandyan si RDO, nadagdagan kami ng beterano na laging nag-aadvise sa amin.”
The Bolts, who went 2-1 in their tune-up games in the offseason – beating sister teams NLEX and TNT and losing to Asean Basketball League team Alab, seek to jumpstart their campaign against the Elite at 4:15 p.m. ahead of an tough test against San Miguel Beer.
“Sobrang excited namin, kasi ang tagal namin hindi nakalaro at bumalik,” Amer said. “Hindi dahil Blackwater lang yan, hindi kami mag-easy-easy, kasi kung titingnan mo yung lineup nila, talagang malakas na, pang-Final Four na rin.
“One game at a time lang,” the Davao native added. “Kailangan lang namin makuha yung first win kasi yung second game namin is second is San Miguel, para yung confidence namin tumaas pa.”