It’s usually in the finals where we are introduced to emerging stars, but by now, we’re quite familiar with Chris Newsome and what he can bring to the table.

Newsome’s athleticism was one of his primary traits and even as he aged, it has helped him score his points and provide stout defense. As he got older, he became a playmaker, setting up his teammates and making the right plays on both ends of the floor.

It’s these qualities that make him a perennial candidate for Gilas Pilipinas, yet unfortunately, Newsome didn’t make the cut for the Philippines in their 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup campaign. Nonetheless, he continued to stay with the team and helped them in any way he could.

It certainly wasn’t the primary reason he made Gilas’ Asian Games squad, but team management certainly took note of the Filipino-American’s intangibles and how they could prove critical in a hostile environment.

Fast forward a few months later and now Newsome is now on a mission to hand the Meralco Bolts that elusive PBA championship. The 2023-2024 PBA Commissioner’s Cup campaign ended with an early playoff exit, but the 2024 Honda PBA Philippine Cup has been a different story.

The Bolts went through a breeze of a quarterfinal round versus the NLEX Road Warriors, before surviving a tough semifinal series against the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings. One would expect Meralco to be playing from behind against the defending champions San Miguel Beermen, but things have been quite the opposite.

As of this writing, the Bolts have a 2-1 series lead and Newsome has been a big reason for that. He has led Meralco in scoring in Games 1 and 3, both of which were Bolts victories. The quantity has certainly been something to note, but it’s how he’s been there to make the right plays that have been more valuable.

The margins for all three PBA Finals games thus far have been single digits so every possession matters. Mistakes could prove critical, but in the past three games, Newsome has been able to respond to the call. Whether it’s feeding his teammates to give them the ball in sweet spots or being at a spot in the right place at the right time, he’s made the much-needed winning plays.

While court production deservedly takes the spotlight in the finals, it’s the intangibles that spell the difference between being crowned champions and coming home empty-handed. Being up 2-1 doesn’t mean a thing for the Meralco Bolts, especially when you’re facing a team like the San Miguel Beermen. They’ll need to continue making the right plays going forward and things can only get better if Chris Newsome will continue to lead the way for them.