Meralco’s loss is Gilas’ gain.
The Bolts’ trio of Chris Newsome, Allein Maliksi and Raymond Almazan will now be available to join the national team pool for the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers after bowing out in the semifinals following their 100-89 loss at the hands of the San Miguel Beermen in the Game 7 of their series on Wednesday.
The three were part of the initial 24-man pool submitted by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas along with SMB’s June Mar Fajardo and CJ Perez. With the Beermen marching to the finals against TNT, however, Fajardo and Perez have been ruled out for the qualifiers.
Gilas has already started its preparations earlier in the week but the Meralco call-ups are likely to join the training camp after spending some time to rest following the grueling semis series against SMB.
Nonetheless, the trio are elated to get a chance to don the country’s colors especially Newsome who will be representing the country on five-on-five for the first time after getting a clearance from FIBA that he is eligible to play as a local.
“Not too sure when I’m gonna start. I assume it’s probably within the next few days. Now I think, I kinda look forward to that and kinda take in that moment now that we’re done here. I’m excited to finally wear that jersey on five-on-five and hopefully I can make that final roster,” said Newsome who also felt it would be a great honor not just for him but also for his family to finally represent the country in the international stage
“I think it’s gonna be a great experience for me, great experience for a lot of the guys who’ve never don the uniform. Again, it’s for the country and take it with utmost honor and respect,” said Newsome.
“I think about my lola, my lolo the ones that came before me and they don’t really have much, from humble beginnings now we’re finally able to have a basketball player representing the country and I think that’s great honor to them, great honor to my family and great honor to the country,” he added.
With that, Newsome is determined to get a crack at the Final 12 that will see action against Lebanon on Aug. 25 and Saudi Arabia on the 29th alongside NBA star Jordan Clarkson and 7-foot-3 center Kai Sotto.
“I just know that everything that I give with Meralco, I’ll give it ten fold when it comes to representing the country, I live it all out there and do my best.”