“Going from being a rookie to a team captain, it’s a roller coaster.”
On July 31, 2022, the Meralco Bolts eliminated Barangay Ginebra from the PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals — and it felt like a curse being broken. For years, the Bolts and the Gin Kings have been meeting in the playoffs, and the Ginebra would send Meralco packing.
But not that night.
The Bolts won, 106-104, and eliminated Ginebra for the first time in team history. Team captain Chris Newsome was hailed player of the game with a triple double — 21 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists — but what went viral in the days after the win was a video of Newsome encouraging his teammates before the game.
“Nobody else [I want to be here with]. I love every single one of you guys here,” Newsome said, raising his voice over the sound of the crowd. “Everybody gotta do their job, everybody gotta do their part. And I promise you, we’ll get a win today.”
Fans got a rare glimpse into Newsome’s brand of leadership, one which isn’t defined by being the team’s top scorer in every single game, but by the moments people don’t see on TV, the words people outside the team rarely hear. He’s the type of player to offer car rides to teammates and staff, teach imports basic Tagalog phrases; and, as a photography hobbyist, occasionally take photos for the Meralco Bolts social media accounts.
“Going from being a rookie to a team captain, it’s a roller coaster,” admits Newsome, who was drafted in 2015. “But it’s one of those things where you kind of mature into it.”
Newsome looks inward, reflecting on how he can make an impact for his teammates: “[I ask myself,] What can I do and how can I use what I have to help my team be the best they can be?”
“A lot of it is being vocal,” he says. Newsome is the one who gathers the team in a huddle right before the game and gives his teammates pep talks. When he was injured in the 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, Newsome was unable to play for most of the conference. Though the Bolts were eliminated earlier than they hoped, Newsome continued to be vocal from the sidelines, in the dugout, and at practice.
Now that he’s healthy again in the ongoing Governors’ Cup, Newsome is ready to once more match those words with action.
“What I try to do is lead by example. If you’re tired, hey I’m tired too, but we have to get through this together. I’ll lead the way, I’ll show you,” says Newsome. “By no means am I a perfect human being but what I do understand is you have to be able to work together. It’s a give and take.”