SMART CLARK GIGA CITY — On Thursday, Meralco moved one win away from the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup playoffs after escaping a tough Rain or Shine Elasto Painters to successfully cap off a grueling back-to-back schedule.
The Bolts collected their fifth win in eight outings. They are now on the cusp of making it to the next round of the All-Filipino conference — something that they haven’t done since the 2014-15 season.
But it will not be easy to get the one win they need to formalize their entry. They’ll have to get it at the expense of majors contender TNT, one of the top teams in the bubble with a 6-2 record.
Baser Amer knows what’s coming.
“Alam naman natin ‘yung TNT, grabe talaga ‘yung line-up nila. It’s a top team. Ang lakas nila ngayon,” he told Tiebreaker Times following the win, where he had 14 points, seven assists, and six rebounds.
The Bolts will be facing a familiar foe in the Tropang Giga on Saturday, whom they last played in last season’s Governors’ Cup semifinals. That best-of-five series went the distance, with Meralco eventually coming out on top.
But this TNT team in the bubble is different from the one they met last time. It now has the 6-foot-7 Poy Erram in the middle, while Ray Parks — who was new to the team back then — has found his niche.
Amer, though, isn’t fazed.
“Yun nga, nadagdagan sila ng Poy. Sa’min naman, nakakabalik na paunti-unti si Kuya Raymond [Almazan]. I think may match-up kami dun kay Kuya Poy.
“Ano lang, kailangan lang namin magtulungan. ‘Yun lang naman talaga eh. And ‘yung defense namin, ituloy lang namin talaga ‘yung pag-depensa as a team, and play as a team as well on offense,” added the 6-foot floor general from Davao City.
Amer also hopes that TNT’s build-up to the match will also help them. The Bolts will face the Tropang Giga side a day after their clash versus the streaking Barangay Ginebra.
“May time kami makapag-prepare para sa kanila,” said the 28-year-old. “Sa’kin malaking bagay ‘yun, makakapag-pahinga katawan namin, makakapag-relax minds namin. Para pagdating sa game, swabe.”
The San Beda great, with the rest of the Orangemen, is extremely eager to reach the playoffs. Amer himself hasn’t gotten far in the Philippine Cup — he was still with the Red Lions the last time the Bolts made it.
“Gigil kami lahat. ‘Yun talaga ‘yung motivation namin, na kailangan i-prove namin na deserving din kami sa All-Filipino,” he said.
“Gusto namin bumalik ulit dun sa Top Four and hopefully makapag-Finals kami.”
But until then, they remain locked on at the task at hand.
“May three games kami na natitira TNT, Terrafirma, NorthPort. Ang mindset namin, one game at a time lang,” he said.
“We’ll just follow kung ano yung gusto ni Coach Norman [Black] and we just have to stay together, magtulungan.”