Chris Newsome erases past heartaches

Chris Newsome erases past heartaches

/ 04:30 AM June 19, 2024

With game-winner on a championship clincher, Newsome erases past heartaches

Chris Newsome–MARLO CUETO/

Chris Newsome’s first crack at a Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) title came during his rookie year, and it ended with the opposing ace hitting a basket at the buzzer.

Nearly eight years later—and three more botched tries in between—the Meralco guard, now his team’s top gun, hit a late jump shot to give the franchise its first championship with an 80-78 Game 6 victory over defending Philippine Cup champion San Miguel.

“Man, it’s just like a movie, for sure,” Newsome, with confetti all over and the net of Meralco’s home goal around his neck, told the Inquirer on the heels of the clincher last Sunday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum.


“Especially when you saw where we were at earlier this conference? No one really thought we were going to be here,” he went on as he shook his head.

Meralco’s campaign in this edition of the PBA’s crown jewel showcase indeed merits a deep dive at some point. With a 3-5 win-loss record way past the halfway point of the elimination round, the Bolts hardly looked like a title contender, but rather a club hurtling toward early vacation at 11th place.

Having patched up the gaps in its game, Meralco went on to march into the Final Four, dragged—and then finally conquered—long-time tormentor Barangay Ginebra in a thrilling Game 7 for the right to challenge the vaunted Beermen.

The campaign was a riveting turnaround for the club, which somehow mirrored Newsome’s career.


Going full circle

Throughout his years playing for the Bolts, the Filipino-American guard out of Ateneo has become a lot of things. He has been a Slam Dunk Champion, the Rookie of the Year, a two-time All-Star, and a member of All-Defensive Team.

He has also won two gold medals for the National Team as well, including the historic Asian Games captured in China last year, but not without being cut several times from the Gilas Pilipinas roster.


But it was only on Sunday night that he was able to call himself a PBA champion.

Newsome, after hitting the title-clincher with 1.3 ticks remaining, was also crowned as the Finals MVP. He averaged 22.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists in those six tightly contested games.

“It’s amazing to be able to see it all through because there were times when I was down. And, you know, I was kind of figuring out whether this is something that I really needed—to just keep on pushing with and keep on working towards,” Newsome said, his voice trailing off as he recalled all those years ending up short-handed.

“You know, in those downtimes, it gets really hard. Especially after failing time and time again. But I had a good support system around me. I have good people around me. Good teammates around me. They’re always encouraging me. It’s a very healthy relationship that we have at Meralco. We feed each other confidence and we continue to believe in one another.”

Newsome also had folks over at the other side silently cheering him on, among them San Miguel skipper and his Gilas captain, Chris Ross.

“New played amazing—he did everything for that team, he had a 41-point game. He was doing everything whether defending, making big shots, making the right plays. He was amazing in this series. … [H]e was 4-for-17. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well but that didn’t change his mindset going for that last shot,” Ross, a 10-time champion, said in praising Newsome.

“I felt like he wanted that,” he added. “‘Make it or miss it just come to me,’ and that’s the confidence you need when you’re the leader of the team. He has the confidence. He puts in the work. Me being around him in Gilas, I know what kind of guy he is.

“He is an amazing player, but he’s an even better person. … He’s a great person so I couldn’t be more happy for him.”

Newsome said in an earlier Inquirer interview that he had imagined hoisting his first-ever PBA trophy in an import-laden conference. Not that he’s complaining about how everything has panned out.

“I never thought that it was going to turn out like this for my first PBA championship. But all those failures definitely make this a lot sweeter,” Newsome said.

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“And to anybody that’s been doubted, keep pushing, man. Keep striving to reach your goals and your dreams.” INQ

TAGS: Chris Newsome, PBA, Sports

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