An apology and an opportunity: John Amores' shot at redemption

John Amores got a chance to revitalize his career with the Zamboanga Valientes in the Asean Basketball League. Pilipinas VisMin Super Cup

It all started with a lucky shot. Or, for that matter, an unlucky shot.

Problems with officiating had turned into finger-pointing. Restraints came next, followed by a rush. Then a punch -- and some more. A rare contest that had to be called off followed by an indefinite suspension.

Just like that, the yet-to-blossom career of John Amores -- once among the top talents coming out of high school as ranked by the National Basketball Training Centre which organizes the national championship -- was nipped in the bud.

Or so we all, including Amores himself, thought.

Amores -- that player who had, justifiably, earned himself infamy as a hothead -- got another shot at the basketball career he had dreamed about. While playing for the Zamboanga Valientes in the Asean Basketball League, he saw action on an international stage and then won a championship in the VisMin Super Cup.

"Actually, nagulat din ako na ang bilis pa rin ng mga pangyayari. Itong Valientes, ito yung pinakanagulat ako kasi international 'to e. Kaya grinab ko na," he shared. "Ito yung opportunity na makabangon at makabawi ako e. 'Pag 'di ko ginawa, lalo lang akong mag-iisip kung anong gagawin ko. Siyempre, kailangan ko pa rin ng pagkukunan ng pantustos sa anak ko."

Amores is father to a two-year-old daughter, and has always been determined to set a good example for her. November 8, 2022 inside the Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan, however, was most definitely not his best.

The 23-year-old will be the first to acknowledge, again and again if needed, that what he did while representing Jose Rizal University is never something he'd like his child to experience. He lost his temper at first because of a disagreement with a referee. Then because of a heckling College of St. Benilde fan, he ran from one end of the court to the other and landed several punches on Blazers Mark Sangco, Jimboy Pasturan, and Taine Davis.

Almost four months later, he understood why on his first day of practice with Zamboanga, he was a marked man.

"Kinapa pa rin nila ako, siyempre. Alam ko naman yun, at ok lang sa'kin," he remarked. "Pero sinabi rin naman nila na sa Zamboanga, welcome na welcome ako. Kalaunan, tinanggap din nila ako nang buong-buo. Kaya malaki pasasalamat ko sa kanila kasi binigyan nila ako ng pagkakataong makapaglaro ulit."

And even when he found new teammates who had his back, all of them still couldn't tune out the noise once Amores, the controversial player who had been slapped with an indefinite suspension by the NCAA, stepped on the court in a game.

"'Di na natin maiiwasan yun e, kaya ginagawa ko na lang inspirasyon. Gusto kong ipakita sa mga taong nakapaligid sa'king pinagpupursigihan ko," he noted. "'Di naman natin masisisi yung ibang tao. Kung anong masasabi nila, wala na akong magagawa dun. Basta ako, looking forward na lang."

That stigma may well follow the 6-foot-2 guard throughout his career and maybe throughout his life outside basketball. Still, Amores said he's doing his best to move on and make up for what he did.

Even more, he can rest assured that less than two weeks after the incident, he decided to own up to his mistake.

"Mabigat na kasi sa kalooban ko. Para gumaan, talagang ako na yung gumawa ng way na makausap sila at makahingi ng pasensya. Ambigat na nung dinadala ko e, kaya gusto ko lang talagang mag-sorry sa kanila," he recalled. "Thankful ako sa kanila na naging maganda naman yung resulta. Gumaan yung pakiramdam ko. Nakahinga rin ako kahit papaano. Nagkamali na ako e, kaya nag-focus na lang ako sa kung ano yung makakaganda."

Amores, on his own and without urging from anybody else, went to CSB's practice 12 days after the fight. He faced Sangco, Pasturan, and Davis, in particular, and apologized. The Blazers accepted his apology and wished him well.

Still, nobody would have faulted CSB had the team acted differently. Nobody can fault anybody for thinking Amores is a lost cause -- after all, that wasn't the first time he let his emotions get the best of him. Amores had also hit University of the Philippines Team B player Mark Belmonte in a preseason game.

Yet for Amores, none of that matters anymore. For the villain in just about everybody's eyes, he had already turned things around and done the right thing.

"Kapag iniisip ko talaga, isa talaga yun sa pinakamagandang ginagawa ko: ang mag-sorry," he exclaimed.

He will continue to try to do the right things as he attempts to turn his PBA dream into reality. That's still a long ways away, though. There's a tall mountain -- probably several, at that -- ahead still to be climbed. There will be doubters and haters all around him each step of the way.

John Amores' unlucky shot knocked down a trio of CSB Blazers. Inside the venue, all were in shock. The same goes for all who were watching -- and then re-watching.

That shot knocked down his career. It didn't knock him out, however. He's back up, way before the count of 10. And he's motivated to keep fighting.