After very long wait, Meralco now in company of PBA immortals

After very long wait, Meralco Bolts now in company of PBA immortals

Meralco Bolts celebrate their first franchise PBA championship

Meralco Bolts celebrate their first franchise PBA championship. – PBA Images

At long last, the Meralco Bolts, perhaps the team with the most number of heartbreaks in terms of chasing a PBA championship, were able to write a happy ending to this story.

And it took one of the longest-tenured players in franchise history to deliver the winning shot that announced Meralco’s coming—after a 14-year wait—as a league immortal.

“There was a time that we really got discouraged because we kept failing and failing,” said Chris Newsome, whose baseline shot with a second left sealed the 80-78 victory and a 4-2 best-of-series win, that gave the Bolts the Philippine Cup, the most prestigious prize in the big league.


READ: Meralco wins first PBA title, survives San Miguel in Game 6

A missed three-pointer from June Mar Fajardo, who earlier tied the count at 78 with three seconds left with a desperate triple, sealed the upset as the Beermen failed to prevent the Bolts from finally completing their long chase of a crown.

But Newsome, who in his first of four previous Finals appearances in the 2016 Governors’ Cup didn’t convert a potential winning shot in Game 5, came through when it mattered, his promise to bring a title to the Meralco headquarters in Ortigas finally fulfilled.

“That’s a sign that if you work harder, you keep improving yourself and keep believing in yourself, good things will happen,” added Newsome, who before the season savored the taste of winning as part of Gilas Pilipinas’ run to the gold medal in the Hangzhou Asian Games.


READ: Finals MVP Chris Newsome leads Meralco breakthrough PBA title win

Meralco not only won the PBA title for the first time, it also ended a 53-year search for a trophy in big-time basketball which it last tasted when Robert Jaworski led the Reddy Kilowatts to glory in the 1971 MICAA Open.


That league is long gone, and the championship trophy hasn’t been seen since the canteen at the Meralco gym was closed. Now, it can add the Jun Bernardino PBA Trophy to its collection.

To say that the Bolts won it unexpectedly is fair. At one point, the team handled by coach Luigi Trillo and active consultant Nenad Vucinic was staring at an early vacation when a stunning loss to winless Converge dropped to 3-5 in the eliminations.

But Meralco persevered, snatching the third seed in the playoffs after denying San Miguel an elimination round sweep in Batangas City, before surviving old nemesis Barangay Ginebra in a semifinal that went the full seven games.

“That was the goal, to just overcome [Ginebra] and we were able to do that,” said Newsome. “I think that allowed us to gain that confidence to come out and give it a good run. We peaked at the right time.”

Newsome and Cliff Hodge, another Meralco lifer, played with a spirit never seen in the past. Allein Maliksi used negative press to fuel himself to vital performances in the last two games of the Finals, while Raymond Almazan, Bong Quinto, Brandon Bates, Anjo Caram and many others delivered.

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Tears of joy were all over the court when the final buzzer sounded as the Bolts finally reached the mountain top. INQ

TAGS: Meralco, PBA, Sports

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