Constant baseline jumper practice bears big fruit for Chris Newsome with title clincher

This shot is now a part of Meralco's rich basketball history. Dennis Acosta
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--The baseline jumper with 1.3 seconds left in Game 6 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals may have solidified Chris Newsome's status as one of the league's best mid-range beasts.

For the newly-crowned Finals MVP, though, it was a result of hard work perfecting that shot.

"I wasn't really worried but just to try to get a good look to give us a legit chance of winning, I worked on that shot all the time, and finally it went in at the right time. So I'm blessed that it happened today and in this moment," Newsome said during the championship celebration at the hardwood of the Smart Araneta Coliseum after Meralco clinched its first PBA title.

"A lot of the guys can tell you, I work on the shots that I take every single day. That's why none of them were really surprised that it went in."

No wonder why active consultant Nenad Vucinic handed the keys to victory to Newsome in the end.

"I wanted to give Chris Newsome the last shot. I know he's been carrying us through the series. Not [just] him, of course, but he really stepped up," Vucinic said in one of the few times all season long the media got to interview him PBA-wise.

The Serbian gaffer did not mind the Fil-American combo guard having an off night--he was just 3-for-16 from the field prior to the play--and still entrusted him with what would be the championship point.

"The big pressure was on him. He didn't have a game up to his standards today. He got defended really well by some of the guards in San Miguel, but the last shot had to go to him. That's his bread and butter: fadeaway jumper from the baseline, and it went in. I'm so happy for him and all the other players. It could not have happened to a better group than that," Vucinic further said.

Newsome's game-winner also took a lot of worry from the Bolts after June Mar Fajardo, of all people, hit a stunning fallaway triple that tied the game with 3.3 seconds remaining in regulation.

"We were in shock when June Mar made that fadeaway three, but we gathered together," Vucinic further said.

Newsome added, "It's about staying [in the] present. You can't really let the things that happened in the past penetrate your mind and allow it to affect you because there's still time on the clock. There's still hope, and for us, it's just focus on the next play until the clock reaches 0:00."

Fajardo still tried to get lucky once more, but his next long-range effort just hit the back iron, and Meralco finally ended 14 years of wait for a PBA title.

Chris Newsome finally fulfills promise

The Finals MVP award fittingly belonged to Newsome, who averaged 22.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.5 assists this series.

However, none was bigger than his clutch basket that should now be forever etched in the Meralco franchise's history book that has existed ever since they were part of MICAA.

"It sounds great. It's nice to stick it out with Meralco, the team that drafted me and believed in me since Day 1," the fourth pick of the 2015 draft continued.

"I've dedicated my heart and my soul to this Meralco organization, and I finally fulfilled that promise of bringing Meralco their first PBA championship today."

The PBA championship simply capped a brilliant 2023-2024 season for Newsome that started with the Southeast Asian Games and Asian Games gold for Gilas.

From hereon, Newsome can now be called a bonafide PBA superstar.

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