Chris Newsome cherishes his deep friendship with Gilas Pilipinas teammates CJ Perez and Calvin Oftana after the journey they had this year with the national team program.
Newsome, who spoke at the Thanksgiving party hosted by Yamaha Motor Philippines, Inc. last Tuesday, felt that the trio’s gold-medal triumph in the 19th Asian Games was a culmination of their months-long commitment to their duty to play for the country.
From winning the 3×3 gold medal in the 2023 Southeast Asian Games to being part of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 pool to helping the Philippines end its 61-year gold drought in the Asiad – it is safe to say that Newsome, Oftana and Perez have been through a lot this year with Gilas.
“It wasn’t just me who was cut (from the World Cup team),” said Newsome. “Calvin also was part of that cut as well. CJ was blessed to be part of that World Cup team.
“What a lot of people don’t know is that we’ve actually been together since SEA Games. There’s a commitment from all of us that we’re not just Asian Games but going all the way back in April when we had a training camp for SEA Games,” the Meralco star continued.
“The three of us have been fully committed to the program. I want everybody out there to know that we really care about playing for the national team. It means a lot for us and for us to bring back the gold medal is such an honor.”
While success in sports is mainly measured by the number of medals and trophies an athlete has won, an unquantifiable aspect is the memories that the players and coaches share together in their quest for glory.
Whether these memories involve banter, confrontations and hilarious moments, sports people will always look back on their experiences within the confines of the locker room and team accommodation as much as the games themselves.
It is for this reason and Newsome shares a special bond with Oftana and Perez considering the lengths they had to go through to play for the country.
“Again, it’s the three of us who have made it through the entire program from that time until right now. I’m happy to be on the stage with my brothers. Of course, this is an experience we’re gonna remember for the rest of our lives,” he continued.
“Though there were a lot of ups and downs and emotions that go with the process, something like this coming out with the gold makes it all worth it.”
It remains to be seen how the next Gilas team will be formed for the 2024 Summer Olympics qualification campaign. By then, the team might be handled by a new coach who will select a different set of players.
It is for this reason that Newsome and the rest of the Gilas squad from the 19th Asian Games fought hard every game — to keep their team and dream of winning the gold medal alive for as long as possible.
The team eventually got the job done and if it was the last competition the trio could win together, then what a way to bow out.
“As I said, we’re gonna remember this for the rest of our lives and one thing that we did say in the locker room was that this was our last dance because we don’t know if ever we’re gonna get another team together or every single piece is gonna be there,” said Newsome.
“We really wanted to be in that moment, cherish that moment with the people that were around us and in that locker room and just to try to do something special, we were able to get that done.”