Chris Newsome once again delivered when it mattered the most, helping Meralco overcome Kiefer Ravena and the gutsy NLEX to post the Bolts’ first back-to-back wins in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup, Friday.
The Fil-Am cager scored seven of his 18 points in the final frame, including two of the Bolts’ five straight points. That streak doused the Road Warriors’ rally where them trimmed a nine-point deficit to just four, 90-94, with 2:23 left.
Newsome also collected six rebounds, six assists, a steal, and a block in nearly 35 minutes in yet another all-around outing in the 101-92 victory that hiked their win-loss record to 3-2.
“As I told you last time when he was Player of The Game, I just told him, ‘Don’t overthink things. Just enjoy the game, have fun. This is the game that you played when you were a kid. It’s still the same game,’” said Coach Norman Black.
This is the second straight game in which Newsome took over for Meralco. In their last game versus Magnolia three nights ago, he scored eight of his 23 points in overtime to lead the Bolts to the 109-104 win.
The highlight of that performance was his tough fallaway jumper from the right baseline with 9.5 seconds left to play. It pretty much shut the door on one of the conference’s favorites.
According to Black, this id the result of their decision to lighten his load on the defensive end so that he can focus more on offense since the Ateneo de Manila product is someone they defer to, especially in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve tried to take some defensive pressure off of Chris Newsome. We normally assign him to the best offensive player on the other side almost every single night. We’ve tried to take that away and give it to other players so that he can concentrate more on his offense, and his offense has really been flowing,” said the multi-decorated coach.
But it doesn’t mean that the five-year pro is free from defensive responsibilities. Black clarified that the team still assigns Newsome to the opposing team’s best player, especially in crunch time.
“At the end of the game, he’s still guarding the best player on the team. Let me not make any mistakes. But what I try to do is not put him on the best player at the start of the game, so he doesn’t have to worry about the defensive end of the court. But by the time we get to the third and fourth quarter, he’s still guarding the best player on the other end.”