Chris Newsome has been known to do a little of everything for the Meralco Bolts and he finally was able to achieve the one thing that has eluded him and the Bolts: win a postseason series against the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Gin Kings.
Years of disappointment have somewhat dissipated after Meralco eliminated the Gin Kings from the 2022 Honda PBA Philippine Cup and advanced to the conference semifinals to face the top seed San Miguel Beermen. Newsome had his fingerprints all over that breakthrough victory over Ginebra as he finished with a triple-double of 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists to go along with two steals.
Of all the things he did in Game 3, though, it was setting up Raymond Almazan’s go-ahead 3-pointer with a minute left in the game. LA Tenorio knocked down a 3-pointer to put the Gin Kings ahead for the first time since the 7:01 mark of the first quarter and with Ginebra’s passionate fan base ready to explode into pandemonium, Newsome set up the game-winning play by handing the ball off to Almazan while also taking the defense with him.
Newsome has always known what to do on the court, whether it was to capitalize on a favorable matchup or make a timely pass to a teammate. The mid-range jump shot he continues to work on, however, has made him even more dangerous, as he can make opponents pay when he feels he has enough separation. Getting to the basket for acrobatic finishes is obviously what the 2016 PBA Rookie of the Year does best, but he can now utilize a deeper repertoire to keep defenders off balance.
His height and athleticism certainly puts him above at least half of the league’s older and undersized guards and Newsome can even back down his defenders while he probes for the best shot possible. Some will say that the 2017 PBA Slam Dunk Contest champion was able to lean on his physical abilities especially in the early portions of his career, but it has allowed him to gain reps that have been largely beneficial for his skills. As he got better, he also became more patient in terms of letting the offense and defense unfold, while also picking his spots better so as not to force things.
In the semifinals, the Beermen will offer a different look compared to the Gin Kings, but the Bolts were able to hand SMB their second loss in the All-Filipino conference.
In Meralco’s 89-86 win, Newsome finished with a game-high 16 points, while his five assists were tied with Aaron Black and Cliff Hodge for the team lead. With San Miguel missing one of their better defenders in Chris Ross, Newsome won’t have to deal with someone who can stick with him thanks to smarts. Of course, the likes of Marcio Lassiter and CJ Perez will at times be matched up with him, but they will be busy taking on the offensive cudgels as well.
Unpredictability can at times be the greatest equalizer in sports and Newsome becoming even more versatile has come in part through his physical gifts and working on his craft over the last seven years. Keeping SMB guessing certainly worked in their favor and Newsome taking the lead or finishing a possession will help in taking the Beermen out of their element.
Newsome’s entire body of work was certainly not unnoticed as FIBA recently cleared the San Jose, California native to be classified as a local player considering how long he has been living (and playing) in the Philippines. Now the 32-year old won’t just be limited to SEA Games action as Gilas Pilipinas will have an extra creator who can adjust to what the situation calls for.
Chris Newsome has been with the Meralco Bolts through all the losses to the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Gin Kings and eliminating them after winning Game 3 of the 2022 Honda PBA Philippine Cup must’ve been a great feeling. The job ain’t finished yet, but it certainly helps to have that monkey off his and the Bolts’ backs.