Newsome nears Gilas Pilipinas dream
Chris Newsome remembers all too well how he came oh-so-close at realizing his lifelong dream of playing for the Philippines.
“We thought everything would be OK. I was actually going to suit up in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games when I first got here, when coach Norman [Black] was coaching. But that’s when [Fiba] implemented the rule and that’s when I found out that dream is going to be on hold,” he recalled.
Newsome acquired his Philippine passport when he was 20 years old. Before Newsome flew here, the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) still did not require regular national team players to have passports of the country they want to represent at 16 years old.
The Meralco guard, now 32, was simply a victim of bad timing. Fortunately, he will no longer have to endure that heartache.
Last month, the international cage body finally elected to recognize Newsome as a local owing to his decades-long residency in the Philippines. And just a few days ago, his name was among a list of pros reportedly being considered as part of an expanded talent pool geared toward the World Cup here next year.
“Something I’ve always dreamed about is being able to wear a Pilipinas jersey,” said Newsome. “I’m just blessed that the [Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas] was able to fight for me, able to even consider me and actually go as far to submitting the documents. A blessing and an honor.”
Also among those whose names being floated are CJ Perez and June Mar Fajardo, who both have represented the Philippines in previous World Cups, and were playing against Newsome and Meralco on Friday night in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals.
“It would be a great experience for me, and a nice boost for my career,” said Perez. “Playing in the World Cup is really tough. So if ever, we’re going to prepare thoroughly for it.”
“It’s an honor to be even considered again for Gilas. There hasn’t been any official word yet but I’m a hundred percent committed,” he added.
It could be recalled that Perez and Newsome already played together during the 3×3 tournament of the SEA Games here back in 2019.
“I think it also shows that they believe in me, and they believe in my talents, everything that I worked for and worked up to, and the player that I am today,” Newsome said of being considered for the main Gilas squad.
“Of course, I’m not [yet] on the team, but you know, just to be considered is already a blessing for me and I won’t take that for granted or lightly at all,” he added.
“If the opportunity comes, I’ll give everything I have. That’s just the type of player I am. I’ll give my all no matter what. So yeah, just kind of take it one step at a time. Of course, my focus is here with Meralco. And Gilas? We’ll worry about that whenever we get there.”