MANILA, Philippines -- Meralco point guard Baser Amer feels blessed to have had the opportunity to learn from one of the very best floor generals to ever suit up in the PBA -- Jimmy Alapag.
The Bolts drafted Amer with the seventh pick of the 2015 PBA Rookie Draft -- the same year that Alapag came out of retirement to play for Meralco.
The former San Beda University guard can still recall how Alapag immediately -- and inadvertently -- taught him a lesson in hard work.
"Noong nag-Meralco ako, 'yung practice namin is 1 p.m.," Amer said in a recent appearance on "2OT" together with his teammates Nico Salva and Bong Quinto.
Amer made it a point to arrive earlier than the scheduled call time, usually at 10 a.m., in order to do some extra work.
"Akala ko, ako na 'yung pinaka-una," he said. "Pagdating ko sa Meralco, parang may bola na nagshu-shoot. Pagtingin ko, si Coach Jimmy na pala."
"Halos everyday 'yun, andoon na siya ng 9 a.m.," Amer learned.
The guard was quick to adjust his habits. "The following day, talagang kinausap ko siya na kung pwede bang sumabay sa kanya," Amer said.
From then on, Amer would arrive at 9 a.m. to work out with Alapag, and to learn from the former PBA Most Valuable Player.
"Tinuturuan niya ako ng mga techniques. Paano gumagamit ng pick-and-roll, paano 'yung time na tumira ng three-points, paano magbasa ng pick-and-roll," Amer said.
The Bolts reached the PBA Governors' Cup finals in 2016, where they lost to Barangay Ginebra in a thrilling six-game series.
Alapag retired at the end of that season, giving the keys to the Meralco offense to Amer. He remained with the team as an assistant coach to continue mentoring the team's young players, which also included former Rookie of the Year Chris Newsome.
Alapag went on to become the head coach of Alab Pilipinas in the ASEAN Basketball League, and later joined the coaching staff of San Miguel Beer. But Amer will always count on him as a mentor, even if they no longer work out together in the mornings ahead of team practices.
"Ang laking tulong sa akin ni Coach Jimmy," said Amer.
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