Chris Newsome dagger delivers Meralco 1st PBA title

Meralco finally won a PBA championship. Dennis Acosta
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--With a lead as high as 17 points slipping away, Meralco hoped that Chris Newsome, who was struggling all game long, would finally get his groove.

They did not exactly get what they wanted, but Newsome delivered when it mattered the most.

Newsome scored on a corner jumper with 1.3 seconds left that helped the Bolts clinch the PBA Philippine Cup title by beating the San Miguel Beermen, 80-78, in Game 6 of the finals on Sunday night at the jam-packed Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Newsome quickly picked up Chris Banchero's inbound pass and shot the middle-range jump shot that swished into the net to the delight of a huge Meralco fanbase that flocked the PBA's longtime home arena in hopes of finally witnessing championship glory.

Newsome's basket virtually nullified June Mar Fajardo's shock three-pointer that many thought would send the game to overtime.

With SMB struggling from deep all game long, Fajardo, the least expected to try his luck from beyond 22 feet in crunch time, buried a fallaway triple with 3.3 seconds left to tie the game at 78-all after falling to a 46-29 deficit in the second quarter and 73-61 with 6:57 left in the fourth.

However, the remaining time was more than enough to execute the Newsome winner, in which he got some space against Simon Enciso and knocked down the jumper against the outstretched arms of Don Trollano.

The Beermen tried to pin their hopes on Fajardo one more time, but his buzzer-beating three only hit the back iron and the Bolts finally celebrated their first PBA championship.

Despite going 4-for-17 from the field, Newsome still led Meralco with 15 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals, and one block.

He finished the series that lasted six games with averages of 22.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per outing, enough for him to be named Finals MVP.

Allein Maliksi added 14 points, three rebounds, and one steal off the bench.

Fajardo finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, and one block for SMB, which failed to complete the season double.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno