A Tale of Two MVPs * NCAA stars join ‘Smart Elite’

NCAA basketball stars Baser Amer of San Beda College and Earl Scottie Thompson of University of Perpetual Help have several things in common. They were both raised in Mindanao, recruited by Metro Manila colleges for their basketball program, and named most valuable player by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Amer was the finals MVP in season 88 and contributed to the Red Lions’ “5-peat” string of championships for the past four years. Thompson was last year’s MVP, averaging 26.5 points and 10 rebounds per game for the Altas.

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SAN BEDA’S Baser Amer has reaped medals at the NCAA and SEA Games. Not bad for someone who started playing basketball using a makeshift ring attached to a coconut tree.

Together with the rest of Sinag Pilipinas, the two also helped the country win its 17th gold medal for men’s basketball at the recent Southeast Asian Games in Singapore. Amer and Thompson’s outstanding skills and passion for the sport led mobile leader Smart Communications to include them in its roster of sports ambassadors, known as the Smart Elite.

From grassroots basketball to the international stage

“Amer and Thompson have very inspiring stories. Both are sons of Mindanao who did so well in their respective hometowns that the big Manila colleges couldn’t help but notice,” said Smart Sports senior manager Epok Quimpo.

Amer attracted the attention of college basketball scouts after his high school, Holy Child of Davao, played against San Beda in a tournament. Meanwhile, Thompson gained notice when he represented Davao del Sur at the Palarong Pambansa.

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UNIVERSITY of Perpetual Help’s Scottie Thompson has gone from representing Davao del Sur and his college to donning the Philippine colors at the SEA Games. Photo credit: Paul Ryan Tan, Sports5

“Their experiences reinforce our commitment to promote sports development from the grassroots levels, with the goal of seeing local athletes excel in the international arena,” Quimpo said.

Smart has been a staunch supporter of sports development in the Philippines. It is a major sponsor in this year’s NCAA, and has backed national teams like Gilas Pilipinas, Sinag Pilipinas, and the Azkals, as well as the activities of various sports organizations.

Smart Elite live the Smart Life

Despite their success at the NCAA and SEA Games, Amer and Thompson remain humble, both saying that teams – not star athletes – win championships.

“My teammates and I always help each other. Walang selfish sa amin. That’s the secret to our 5-peat victory. We have a strong brotherhood,” Amer said.

“We treat each other like brothers,” Thompson said about his Altas teammates. “We’re very close to each other, and we do everything we can in every game.”

Amer had nothing but good words for the Red Lions, saying “maraming magaling sa San Beda.”

“That’s why I was so surprised when Smart chose me to be an ambassador. I’m really thankful for it, and it’s extra meaningful for me because I am a Smart subscriber,” he said.

Amer said he uses his Smart-powered mobile phone to check out basketball videos on YouTube, especially those featuring his idols Stephen Curry and Jimmy Alapag. Thompson does the same thing, frequently using YouTube to catch videos of Kobe Bryant.

“I use messaging apps to communicate with my parents in the province. I also use my phone to listen to hiphop music. I do this before trainings and games to help myself relax,” he said.

“Whatever your lifestyle is, Smart has digital services that will fit it perfectly. You will no longer be limited by time or your location, from doing what you love most,” said Smart executive vice president and consumer business head Ariel Fermin.

He added that like Amer and Thompson, Filipinos could live the “Smart Life” by using digital innovations that enable them to enjoy their passions more.

Posted in Sports