NORMAN Black admitted it was hard letting go of Meralco baby Baser Amer in order to acquire the services of big man Mac Belo.
The 63-year-old coach described his parting of ways with the 6-foot guard from Davao as an ‘emotional moment’ for him.
Black said it was hard for him to talk to Amer and break the news about the team’s decision to trade him.
The 28-year-old playmaker from San Beda was a first round pick (No. 7 overall) by Meralco in the 2015 draft.
“I had been with Baser for five years and he had been a big part of our team. And he produced a lot for us over the years. So it was hard to let him go,” said Black in the Power&Play program of fomer PBA commissioner Noli Eala.
But the lure of acquiring an elite big man of Belo’s caliber was too good to pass up especially with the Bolts looking to fortify their frontcourt.
At the same time, the team coaching staff, according to Black, felt there are players who are all capable of stepping in and fill Meralco's needs in the backcourt.
“Some of our younger guards had developed already and we needed really to firm up our frontline because that’s one of the reasons why we could not get to the next level which was the championship round of the all-Filipino,” said the 11-time PBA champion coach.
“So when the opportunity came to get Mac Belo, we jumped on it thinking that, ‘Ok, we’re giving up Baser Amer and obviously that’s a loss for the team.’ But at the same time, we have young guys who can step up and fill in that position.'”
Black noted how loaded the Bolts’ backcourt is with young, upcoming guards led by Bong Quinto, Trevis Jackson, and last year’s Top Rookie awardee Aaron Black.
The team also has veterans Nards Pinto and Anjo Caram, who, the Meralco coach said, could come in anytime and do a good job.
Most importantly, he pointed out, Meralco’s top playmaker is actually two-way guard Chris Newsome.
“My top playmaker and top assist man is Chris Newsome. So he’s there and can play point guard at times,” said Black.
The Meralco coach added: “We’re expecting a lot out from Aaron this year. We’re expecting a lot out from Trevis Jackson, and we expect him to step up and fill in that position.”
Amer was part of the three Meralco teams that reached the finals of the Governors Cup in 2016, 2017, and 2019, but they fell short each time against Barangay Ginebra.
He also played huge when the Bolts advanced to the semis of the Philippine Cup for the first time in franchise history last year in the Clark bubble, only to be denied by the Kings in their championship bid after Scottie Thompson drained the game-winning three-pointer in the deciding match of their best-of-five semifinals series.
Amer averaged 9.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 18 games during the all-Filipino conference last year.
In five seasons with the Bolts, he normed 10.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.9 assists.
He averaged a high 40 percent from three-point range during the 2017-18 season, which also happens to be his best year as a pro – 12.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.4 assists, all career-highs.