ALLEN Durham and Baser Amer best typify Meralco’s resolve in its best-of-five semis duel against TNT.
Bong Quinto, Chris Newsome, Raymond Almazan and Anjo Caram led those who also did their part on both ends of the court and helped the Bolts score a 114-94 victory last Tuesday that tied up their battle with the KaTropa at 1-all.
But their resident import and starting point guard undeniably provided the needed spark as Meralco bounced back strong from a 94-103 loss in the series opener.
Durham had his second triple-double of the conference with 44 points, 19 rebounds, and 11 assists, with the bulk of them coming in the first half that boosted the Bolts into the lead that got stretched to a high of 35 points in the second period.
As usual, Durham played down his performance, saying: “That’s more to my teammates hitting shots, taking the confidence to make their shots. Obviously, I’m just doing what I’ve been doing for the whole conference, getting rebounds, and getting buckets when I can.”
Amer had 20 points, 11 more than he what he scored in the opener and despite what he termed as “bullying” on the part of the KaTropa, led by Roger Pogoy.
“Actually, last game parang ang dami niyang kurot sa’kin,” related Amer. “As in may mga pasa ako. May pasa ako sa legs, pasa sa tiyan. Kung kinukurot niya ko, kung pinipisikal ako, okay lang. It’s all part of the game. Pero hopefully, next game makita ng referee ‘yun kasi hindi na basketball ‘yun.”
Amer also claimed his coaches and teammates became aware of that fact after Game 1 and forewarned him before Game 2.
“Sinasabi na, ‘Baka kurutin ka ulit. Okay lang basta galingan mo lang, ‘wag ka magpa-apekto,’” said Amer. “Gawin niya ulit sa Game 3, Game 4 or maybe Game 5, I’ll just focus on the game. I just want to win.”
Such acts only tend to prod him and his teammates even more, added Amer. “Motivated na rin kami, kasi nga parang nakaka-bastos na iyon,” he said. “Wala naman akong ginagawa, or kaming ginagagawa sa kanila, pero andu’n ‘yung pam-bu-bully. Basta kami motivated lang kami, gusto lang namin manalo and hopefully makabalik sa finals.”
His team’s determination, which it translated into game, was not lost on Durham. “We know that in Game 1, that wasn’t Meralco Bolts basketball,” he said.
“We had to come out with intensity starting on defense and offense. I told you guys before, we have to have more rhythm and we did that in the first half. It was really sloppy in the second half, but overall, we played a decent game.”