By Ernest Hernandez
The 2017 PBA Governors Cup is underway with attention focused on the grand slam-seeking San Miguel Beermen and defending champion Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings. However, the Meralco Bolts are quietly making their case as title contenders.
“We are ok with that, they are very good teams and they deserve the spotlight that they get. We are just trying to win games like everyone else,” said Norman Black.
With last year’s best import Allen Durham back in harness, Black believes that they have new and sharper tools to aid their prized reinforcement.
“We do have the reigning best import and that gives us the opportunity to do well this conference,” said Black. “There is a lot of optimism going to the third conference and the players gain a lot of confidence because of his presence. “
Baser Amer, currently mentored by Jimmy Alapag, has shown remarkable improvement with an all-around game. This was on full display when the Bolts defeated the Blackwater Elite. He finished with 20 points, 8 assists and six rebounds.
“You cannot dismiss the fact that Baser Amer is not the same player that he was last year. He is a much, much-improved player now and he gives us leadership, production offensively. His improvement helped the team improve.”
Aside from Amer, there is the addition of sharpshooter Garvo Lanete. He lit up against Blackwater, sinking five three-pointers which also spaced up Durham to operate in the paint.
“What we wanted to do is to get more perimeter shooting because we felt last year that a lot of times teams would just gang up on him and double team him every time he touches the ball. That is why we got a very promising young player in Garvo Lanete.”
Even Durham acknowledges how the spacing helped him as he finished with 18 points while grabbing 21 rebounds for the Bolts. Despite all the attention on San Miguel and Ginebra, he believes that going low key will benefit the team in the long run.
“Let everyone keep saying that. That is cool,” said Durham.
“I like to be the dark horse and we keep doing what we do, keep on playing bolts basketball and we will see in the end.”
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