Andaya

With Newsome, Meralco finally sees light

June 18, 2024 Ed Andaya 217 views

NEWLY-crowned PBA Philippine Cup champion Meralco and runner-up San Miguel Beer deserve a big shout out for producing one of the most exciting finals in league history and bringing the fans back to the games at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Bolts made history by winning their first-ever PBA championship after four runner-up finishes — all to Barangay Ginebra — in 14 years since taking over the franchise of Sta. Lucia Realty in 2010.

But the Beermen, who have won the most championships in Asia’s forst play-for-pay league with 29 titles, should also be commended for pushing the Bolts to the limits that resulted into six action-packed, heart-stopping games in the scheduled best-of-seven tiitle series.

In the end, a fadeaway jumper by Fil-Am guard Chris Newsome off the outstretched arms of Don Trollano with 1.3 seconds left did it for the Bolts.

How big a victory was it for Meralco?

Let us count the ways.

First, the Manny V. Pangilinan-owned franchise finally ended 14 years of frustrations and disappointments of failing to win a title despite boasting of such big-name stars as Marlou Aquino, Asi Taulava,Marc Cardona, Beau Belga and Chris Ross and top-caliber coach Ryan Gregorio right on its first year in the pro league.

The Bolts reached the quarterfinal round with an even 7-7 win-loss record before losing to B-Meg Derby Llamados (now Magnolia Pambansang Manok) in two games in the playoffs.

Second, the championship was only the second All-Filipino Conference crown for the MVP Group since 2013 when San Mig Coffee (now Magnolia) completed a historic grandslam under coach Tim Cone in 2013.

Third, winning the title finally made champions out of Newsome, Chris Banchero, Allen Maliksi, Cliff Hodge, Bong Quinto and Raymond Almazan, who finally saavored the sweet taste of success after years of trying.

Newsome, the No. 4 pick overall by Meralco in the 2015 PBA Draft, also finally earned his first championship in nine years while winning his first PBA Press Corps Finals MVP award.

Fourth, the championship was only the second for coach Luigi Trillo, who steered Alaska Milk to the 2013 PBA Commissioner’s Cup with a 3-0 sweep of Barangay Ginebra; and the first in the PBA for consultant Nenad Vucinic.

And fifth, the championship — and the series itself — brought the fans back to the games at the Big Dome, with smiles on their faces after watching six exciting games where the average winning margin is less than 10 points.

“It came down to the wire again. But we credit our guys. They found a way to win. They showed some composure in that second half for us,” Trillo, who joined Meralco as an assistant coach in 2014, was quoted as saying.

“We’ve been together. We’ve been working closely together. Just proud of the ways these guys battle through it. And it was one of those serieses where it was very close every game,” added Trillo.

Even Vucinic, a five-time “Coach of the Year” in New Zealand, had good words for rival San Miguel and of course, Newsome.

“The last play, we were in shock when June Mar made that fadeaway 3, we were shocked but we got it together. Personally, I wanted to get Chris Newsome the last shot. I know he’s been carrying us through the series, not only him of course, but he really stepped up, the big pressure was on him,” said Vucinic.

“He didn’t have a game up to his standards. Today, he got really defended well by some of the guards in San Miguel. But the last job had to go to him (Newsome),” added Vucinic during post-game interview.

The PBA Governors’ Cup, which will officially raise the curtains for Season 49, is scheduled to begin by middle of August.

We can’t wait to see PBA Philippine Cup champion Meralco, runner-up San Miguel Beer and the rest of the teams parade imports with a limited height of 6-6.

Then comes the Commissioner’s Cup, which will feature imports of unlimited height.

Also on tap is the much-awaited return of the two-import format.

The PBA said explosive tandems like Billy Ray Bates and Michael Hackett of Ginebra, Andre McKoy and the late Rob William of Tanduay Rhum, Michael Young and Haroled Keeling of Manila Beer, Michael Phelps and Norman Black of San Miguel and Joe Ward and Tommy Davis of Anejo Rum proved to be a big draw in the league during the 80s up to the 90s.

Andeven now, PBA Commmissioner Willie Marcial deserves a big pat on the back for a job well done even during the league’s trying times.

NOTES — Congratulations to the ERJHS Alumni Association, Inc., headed by Ramon Ferreros of Monchee’s Lechon, and newly-appointed ERJHS Principal Ernest Ferrer, for finalizing another agreement to work together for the good of the students. One of the association’s top priorities is the hosting of the ERJHS 73rd Foundation Day and Grand Alumni Homecomng on February, 2025…

Belated Happy Father’s Day to all.

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