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PBA: Beermen test Bolts tonight

Games Today
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – Alaska vs Rain or Shine
6:45 p.m. – Meralco vs San Miguel

The unbeaten Meralco Bolts face another stern test tonight as they seek their fifth straight win against the debuting Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beermen in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Four straight victories after a dreadful campaign last conference have made the Bolts a contender, but whether that holds true or not will be known in the 6:45 p.m. showdown with the Beermen, who are seeing action almost a month after beating Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the Philippine Cup finals.

Much of Meralco’s play has been credited to the imposing presence of import Alex Stepheson, who is averaging 17.5 points and 21.8 rebounds in wins over Mahindra, NLEX, TNT KaTropa and Rain or Shine.

But more than Stepheson’s play has been the improved showing of sophomore playmaker Baser Amer, who is slowly making a name for himself thanks to his stellar play calling the shots.

The former San Beda star came through for the Bolts in Wednesday’s 89-83 win over Rain or Shine at the Mall of Asia Arena with 17 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, drawing praises from coach Norman Black and the rest of the team.

“He deserves a lot of credit to how he is handling the team. After four conferences, he is maturing as a basketball player,” Black said of Amer.

“Coach has given the keys to him and we’re just doing whatever Baser wants us to do on the court. He’s our floor leader right now,” added energetic forward Cliff Hodge.

The soft-spoken Amer said the confidence given to him by Black and the rest of the Bolts coaching staff that include former playmakers Ronnie Magsanoc and Jimmy Alapag has made him perform beyond anyone’s expectations.