By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Controversial NCAA men’s basketball swingman John Amores from the Jose Rizal University (JRU) Heavy Bombers finally made his hoops comeback after facing an indefinite ban and varsity expulsion two months ago.
PHL-based basketball club Zamboanga Valientes gave Amores a new lease in life several weeks ago after acquiring him for the 2023 ABL Invitational League and was quick to make an impact during their 108-94 come-from-behind victory over the Louvre Surabaya last January 3, 2023, held at the OCBC Arena in Singapore.
It was a physical game to handle for Zamboanga against a veteran-filled Surabaya team led by former Chooks-to-Go 3×3 import Marcus Hammonds.
Surabaya got it going early in the first half and took advantage of their size advantage when they pounded most of their offensive sets in the shaded lane.
Despite Antonio Hester’s stellar scoring, Zamboanga still couldn’t pull-away and trailed by as much as nine points heading into the fourth quarter.
Just when Surabaya thought they could continue their hot shooting, the duo of Amores and Hester woke Zamboanga up and led the Valientes rally after back-to-back baskets.
From a nine-point deficit, Zamboanga quickly equalized the contest at 79-all and didn’t look back after the guards also flipped the switch and sank timely baskets in the crucial last five minutes.
Amores became Zamboanga’s spark plug against Surabaya and filled the stat sheets with 16 points, five rebounds, and two steals.
Hester, one of the most impressive imports who played for the Terrafirma Dyip, top-scored Zamboanga with 35 points, 11 rebounds, and four steals.
The Valientes hoopers will look to secure the no. 1 spot and gun for back-to-back wins as they take on the rejuvenated Saigon Heat tomorrow, January 6.