Baser Amer roars from Davao to Manila
MANILA, Philippines -- San Beda College won its third straight NCAA men's basketball championship in Season 88, many thanks to a diminutive guard from Davao who never backed down in the biggest of big moments.
Even from the start, Baser Amer looked destined to be a basketball superstar. Growing up in a basketball-loving family, Amer honed the fundamentals of his game just outside their house, drilling in baskets in a makeshift ring attached to a huge tree.
Amer was trained to do battle early in his childhood as he went up against his father and brother, both of whom stand between 5'8" to 5'10" --- definitely not your average Filipino. Basketball was the bonding activity of the men in his household and even though Baser did not undergo formal hoops training in his grade school days, he believed that he was destined for something big.
And even back then, Baser Amer knew that he would be a San Beda Red Lion.
"Nung nasa Davao pa lang ako, napapanood ko na sila sa TV," Amer told Rappler. "Gusto ko makapaglaro doon ng basketball kaya naging goal ko na makapunta ng Maynila and makapaglaro for them."
Leaving the province, his comfort zone was not an easy decision to make. But Baser was bent on making it big with the Red Lions and fortunately for him, he has a family who understood his decision.
"Supportive naman yung family ko," he said. "Lalo ang father ko. Kase dun din niya ako gusto mapunta."
Then-national youth head coach Eric Altamirano paved the way for Amer to make it to Manila, where everything happened in the blink of an eye. Before he could absorb everything that's happening, Baser was already on his way to San Beda High School.
Amer quickly absorbed the Red Cubs' winning tradition, copping two championships and a Finals Most Valuable Player award in 2010 as he turned into the darling of NCAA juniors play, the same way Kiefer Ravena was treated in the UAAP high school wars.
The Filipino Muslim was so good that he almost normed a triple-double (16.3 points, 8.5 rebounds, 11.7 assists) --- something almost unheard of in NCAA hoops --- in his senior year.
Not contented, Amer continued his winning ways into college and collected back-to-back championships for the San Beda seniors team, the second of which was more special as he bagged the Finals MVP award.
Amer led the Red Lions by firing 20 points in Game 1 before completing a splendid finals run with 14 points in their series-clinching bamboozling of the Letran Knights in Game 3.
To the next level
With the collegiate ranks already under the Lion King's reign, Amer brought his exciting game to the Philippine Basketball Association Developmental League, where he showcases his wares for four-time champion NLEX.
And while the spotlight was always on him in San Beda, Baser played a completely different part with the Red Warriors --- a role player who is expected to deliver anytime he's brought in. Like a total team player, he takes it in stride.
"All I want is to win," he shared. "All of my teammates are important to me. I am in a different team so kailangan mag-sacrifice. Lalo na sa NLEX. Super ang gagaling nito."
Although a newbie in the Road Warriors' scheme of things, Amer still played a pivotal role for NLEX in achieving their fourth straight championship, proving his mettle for coming up big in the clutch anew and earning the nickname "Mr. Fourth Quarter."
"Super malaking opportunity para sa akin ang D-League, lalo na ang NLEX," he said. "Madami akong natutunan sa kanila and at the same time, madaming new friends."
Gunnign for a fifth consecutive title, the Road Warriors have seemed to have wilted this conference after losing their first two games. Nevertheless, Amer is confident that NLEX still has what it takes to repeat, repeat and repeat.
“Super excited na ako sa second conference ko with NLEX," said Amer. "Naging part kasi ako ng history kaya sana, makuha pa din namin ang fifth championship.”
No easy feat
Very much like his journey from Davao to Manila, helping chalk up a five-peat is no easy feat. Thankfully for the Road Warriors faithful, Amer comes out every game ready and inspired, raring to put on a dazzling performance for his family.
"Lagi ko sila iniisip," he shared. "Para gumanda games ko, ang iisipin ko sila. Na para sa kanila ang laro na yun."
"Kaya ako nandito sa Manila para sa kanila."
Whether Amer and his NLEX crew will be champs once more remains to be seen, but for Amer, it's already in the bag and he believes that someone from up above will be able to help him and his teammates do the impossible.
"Lahat ng expectations ko sa sarili ko pati ng ibang tao, alam kong magagawa ko at maaabot ko with the help of God." - Rappler.com