PBA Philippine Cup

Wary of history repeating, Newsome, Meralco stay cautious after seizing 2-1 lead vs San Miguel

Delfin Dioquino

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Wary of history repeating, Newsome, Meralco stay cautious after seizing 2-1 lead vs San Miguel

ATTACK. Chris Newsome in action for the Meralco Bolts in the 2024 PBA Philippine Cup.

PBA Images

Chris Newsome is well aware that a 2-1 lead in the PBA Philippine Cup finals does not guarantee a storybook ending as Meralco survives San Miguel in Game 3

MANILA, Philippines – Chris Newsome and Meralco may have regained control of the PBA Philippine Cup finals, but a 2-1 lead brings about a sense of caution.

Newsome is well aware such advantage does not guarantee a storybook ending after the Bolts survived San Miguel in Game 3 of the best-of-seven series, hacking out a 93-89 win at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, June 9.

After all, Meralco seized a 2-1 lead in two of its first four finals appearances only to fall short of the grand prize as it remains without a championship since it joined the league in 2010.

“We’ve definitely been here before, but the result didn’t pan out the way we wanted to,” said Newsome, who saw the Bolts bow to Barangay Ginebra in the 2016 and 2021 Governors’ Cup finals despite starting both series up 2-1.

“For those guys that were with us during those 2-1 leads and we had those lapses, those are the guys that are actually the most vocal in our locker room today. Those are the guys that have been through it.”

“We’ve had our heartbreaks and we’re passing our knowledge now and the things that we felt we could have done better during our 2-1 leads to capitalize on the situation and turn it into a 3-1 lead.”

Leading by example, Newsome saved the day for Meralco with key buckets down the stretch and finished with a season-high 26 points on top of 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals.

The Beermen still led 89-88 with under a minute remaining before Newsome scattered 5 straight points off a triple and a pair of free throws to help the Bolts within two victories of their first-ever PBA championship

Although undoubtedly the top performer, Newsome deflected credit to his teammates, especially with the way they encouraged him to stay aggressive after he scored just 6 points in the first half.

“That’s Meralco basketball for you. It’s not just about one person. It’s about the whole team that feeds each other’s confidence,” said Newsome.

“We’re trying to get the best out of everybody on our team. Sometimes, there’s going to be a little bit of tough love there. But at the end of the day, it’s all out of good intentions because we all know what we’re striving for.”

Aside from Newsome, Meralco also drew solid performances from Raymond Almazan, Bong Quinto, Cliff Hodge, and Chris Banchero.

Held scoreless in Game 2, Almazan bounced back with 17 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks, Quinto supplied 16 points and 6 rebounds, while Cliff Hodge continued his stellar play with 10 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 assists.

Banchero also delivered with 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists.

Mo Tautuaa topscored for San Miguel with 19 points as star big man June Mar Fajardo failed to get any rhythm going after incurring three fouls by halftime.

Fajardo still finished with a double-double of 12 points and 5 rebounds, but he committed a season-high 7 turnovers and attempted just a season-low-tying 5 field goals in over 40 minutes of play.

Coming off a 34-point explosion in their Game 2 escape, CJ Perez also struggled with 18 points on a dismal 6-of-19 shooting from the field and a 5-of-11 clip from the free throw line.

But even if it seems that the Bolts have the Beermen figured out, Meralco knows the defending champions will come out with guns blazing next game.

“We’re going up against San Miguel, which is the best team of the decade. They’re playoff-ready. The’ve been through a lot of series. It’s going to be tough to go up 3-1, especially after this win by us,” said Newsome.

“They’re going to be hungry.”

The Scores

Meralco 93 – Newsome 26, Almazan 17, Quinto 16, Banchero 10, Hodge 10, Maliksi 8, Torres 2, Pascual 2, Bates 2, Rios 0, Caram 0.

San Miguel 89 – Tuatuaa 19, Perez 18, Lassiter 12, Fajardo 12, Trollano 11, Teng 10, Cruz 7, Ross 0, Brondial 0, Enciso 0.

Quarters: 28-24, 48-46, 71-70, 93-89.

– Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.