Bolts ready to embrace ‘bad boy’ role
Sporting a busted lip and an “aw shucks” smile, Meralco rookie Chris Newsome looked more like the boy-next-door type who got manhandled by neighborhood bullies.
So it was a bit jarring to hear Newsome talk about being a villain in the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals series featuring the Bolts and the Barangay Ginebra Kings.
“We’re going to be the villains, for sure,” said the athletic swingman.
But looking at the context with which he framed his statement clarifies everything.
“Like Kobe said, sometimes you have to embrace being the villain.”
The Bolts will face a squad that has been labeled the People’s Champ for a reason: Every Ginebra journey is accompanied by a throng of relentless supporters.
“A lot of people are going to look at us as the villain,” he said. “But that’s not always bad. Like [retired Lakers star] Kobe [Bryant] said, sometimes you have to embrace being the villain.”
Meralco’s role as the bad guy in the best-of-seven series was further amplified when team spitfire Cliff Hodge, in an apparent rush of adrenalin after he spearheaded the Bolts’ ouster of top seed TNT KaTropa, publicly said he wanted to face Ginebra in the championship because he wanted to play against the crowd.
“It was probably not one of the best things Cliff could have said,” said Bolts coach Norman Black, laughing. “But I understand where he’s coming from. I have played against Ginebra before and the atmosphere is just unbelievable.”
“So I forgive him. This time.”
Even Ginebra coach Tim Cone agrees.
“I know you always have to be careful about what you wish for but I’ve been in several battles with Ginebra; when I was with Alaska, we had a great rivalry and when I was with San Mig, we had the Manila Clasico,” Cone said. “I do understand that [Cliff] is excited to play in that kind of an atmosphere because it is a great atmosphere.”
Luckily, Cone no longer has to worry about that. That is now the Bolts’ problem. Newsome hopes that the Meralco family will help distract the team from the Ginebra noise.
“It’s going to be an exciting series and I’m proud to be part of the first Meralco team to make the Finals and I’m sure our Meralco family will support us as we represent them the best we can,” said Newsome.