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Meralco's Game 6 hero Chris Newsome savors first PBA title

PBA: Chris Newsome of the Meralco Bolts

Meralco snared its first-ever PBA title the same way the Bolts lost in their breakthrough finals appearance eight years ago: with a game-winner.

Back in the 2016 Governors' Cup finals, Meralco, then under the tutelage of head coach Ryan Gregorio, was pitted against Barangay Ginebra in the best-of-seven series and even seized a 2-1 lead. However, the Gin Kings won the next three games before a Justin Brownlee triple over Allen Durham in the waning moments of Game 6 put the cherry on top for Ginebra.

That shot haunted the Bolts in the succeeding years, falling to the same team in their next three finals rematches during the 2017, 2019, and 2022 editions of the season-ending import-laced conference.

But their time finally came on Sunday at the jam-packed Smart Araneta Coliseum, exorcising the demons of finals past and dethroning a giant that was San Miguel to hoist the ballclub's first PBA trophy since its inception in 2010.

And it's thanks in large part to Chris Newsome, who buried the championship-clinching jumper over Don Trollano with a second left in the clock to help the Bolts end their 14-years wait.

"It feels like a dream but at the same time, I put in the work for this so I know I deserve this. I know all the guys in the locker room deserve this as well [as] I see them work every single day and it feels great to finally get that breakthrough championship for Meralco," Newsome, who is one of the longest-tenured players in Meralco, said postgame following their 80-78 victory in Game 6.

But while many would chalk up Newsome's game-winner to luck, the 33-year-old guard thought otherwise. He said he had been practicing that shot over time, stressing he has always been ready for big moment like that.

"For a lot of guys out there and a lot of people out there, it might seem like it’s ‘tsamba’ but that’s something that I work on everyday. So for me and the guys in the locker room, it was no surprise that it went in," the Gilas Pilipinas member added.

"The story behind it is to just have the courage to be able to try things even if you fail."

—JMB, GMA Integrated News