Baser Amer needed just one forgettable game to motivate him to put on a tour-de-force performance on Friday. Amer scored 21 points as the Meralco Bolts used a furious second-quarter rally to seize control and cruise to their first victory of the Commissioner's Cup, 01-92 over the Columbian Dyip at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Amer fired 15 points in the second half, including a pair of free throws with 17.1 remaining that put the score beyond reach, 101-91.
Amer was coming off a lackluster conference opener. With a golden chance to win the game in regulation in the opener, the Bolts turned to rookie Trevis Jackson. He was able to shrug off his defender but seemed a little reluctant to launch a jumper even with all the space he had. He missed the shot. And the Bolts went on to lose their Commissioner's Cup opener against Blackwater, 94-91.
It was an unusual move for Meralco, which normally leans on Amer with the game on the line. But Amer was hobbled by foul trouble and rode the bench for most of that match.
The team responded with a much better effort against Columbian.
"We played a lot better offensively and defensively today. Good team victory for us today," Meralco coach Norman Black said.
Import Gani Lawal posted 25 points and 27 rebounds, Jackson scored 17, while Chris Newsome and Cliff Hodge combined for 22 points.
The Dyip had an advantage in the open court They beat Meralco in fastbreak points, 23-5. But Meralco was able to control the pace, even leading by as many as 17 points.
Columbian, which sank to 0-2, was able to get to within six with under three minutes left. But the team went cold from the free throw line, missing 3-of-6 in the final minutes.
Kyle Barone paced the Dyip with 26 points, 16 rebounds, and three assists. CJ Perez added 22 points and Rashawn McCarthy fired 13 points.
Meralco 101 - Lawal 25, Amer 21, Jackson 17, Newsome 12, Hodge 10, Hugnatan 5, Tolomia 4, Pinto 3, De Ocampo 2, Salva 2, Faundo 0, Caram 0, Jamito 0, Quinto 0.
Columbian 92 - Barone 26, Perez 22, McCarthy 13, Cahilig 11, Corpuz 11, Khobuntin 3, Agovida 3, Reyes 2, Calvo 1, Faundo 0, Camson 0, Celda 0, Escoto 0, Tabi 0.
Quarterscores: 23-18, 50-35, 79-71, 101-92.
Jackson Corpuz and Cliff Hodge got into a scuffle with 1:34 remaining in the game after a rebound play. Both were slapped with technical fouls.
Gani Lawal is averaging 29.5 points and 24 rebounds over two games.
Meralco vs. GInebra on May 26 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Columbian vs. Blackwater on May 26 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.