PBA: Chris Newsome channels inner Kobe in Meralco series vs Ginebra

Meralco Bolts' Chris Newsome during a PBA Philippine Cup game against Ginebra Gin Kings

Meralco Bolts’ Chris Newsome during a PBA Philippine Cup game against Ginebra Gin Kings. –PBA IMAGES

MANILA, Philippines—Meralco is well aware of Ginebra’s general popularity in the PBA.

Chris Newsome knows that the Bolts are in for a ride in the Philippine Cup semifinals with the crowd solidly behind the crowd darlings Gin Kings.

Despite not being the favorites, though, Newsome is keeping a certain mentality to help rally the Bolts in the series that’s knotted up at one game apiece– the Mamba mentality.

“I know Kobe (Bryant) said it many times. He enjoys being a villain in away games so that’s kind of the mindset we have as a team. We definitely try our best to not let the crowd into it,” said Newsome with Inquirer Sports after their 103-91 win over Ginebra at Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday.

“That’s why the fans come. Because they want to see a good game between their faves and the opponents and it just so happens that we are the opponents. So for me, it’s better to embrace the role, understand what it is and once you embrace it, you’ll be more comfortable and capable of doing things the right way or even better.”

In Bryant’s final run with the Lakers before his retirement in 2016, a Nike advertisement went viral with the Black Mamba being booed in various arenas he played in during his time in the NBA.

Newsome certainly channeled his inner “villain” and shushed the Ginebra-dominant crowd with 20 points, four rebounds and three assists to take away the Gin Kings’ luxury of having a 2-0 lead.

READ: PBA: Meralco fights back, beats Ginebra in semis Game 2

“Sometimes, you have to embrace that role in order to get better performances,” explained the Ateneo product.

Coach Luigi Trillo, though, would rather labe the surging Bolts as something else other than villans.

“I don’t know about villains but I’d like to think we’re the underdogs. We’ve had a lot of painful series with them and we said, we have a chance to not have towels over our heads again,” said the head tactician.

The Bolts have had several playoff series with Ginebra in the past, the most remarkable one in 2016 when the Gin Kings won their first PBA title after eight years of drought at the expense of Meralco.

READ: PBA: Meralco finds jolt of energy, rekindles rivalry with Ginebra

The Bolts put up a good fight, forcing Ginebra to six games but all of it was washed away when Justin Brownlee hit the buzzer-beating game-winner in Game 6 to give Meralco one of its worst heartbreaks in franchise history.

Now with the rivalry renewed, Trillo is just “privileged” to have a shot at writing a good chapter for Meralco in the Gin Kings-Bolts competition.

“It’s a privilege to be here in the semis, I respect that other side so much, the coaching staff, the players, they all better themselves.”