MANILA, Philippines -- Meralco veteran Chris Newsome was not worried about his offensive struggles in Game 4 of their semifinal series against San Miguel, where the Bolts cruised to a 111-97 triumph.
Newsome shot just 2-of-6 from the field for eight points, but the Bolts broke the game open in the third quarter to tie their PBA Philippine Cup semis series at 2-2. Five Meralco players were in double digits, led by Aaron Black with 21 points.
"When you look at it statistically, it wasn't my best night," said Newsome, who was nonetheless a plus-11 for the game with six assists, four rebounds, and a steal to his name.
"But at the end of the day, it's about getting the win, and we were able to get the win today. A lot of people stepped up," he added. "Maybe tonight wasn't my night, but it was definitely for Allein [Maliksi]."
"Aaron stepped up, of course, Cliff [Hodge] stepped up and Raymond [Almazan], he stepped up as well. For me, it's all about the win column."
Maliksi (19), Hodge (18), and Almazan (17) all reached double-figures in scoring, helping offset a poor shooting performance from Newsome and Chris Banchero, who was 0-of-2 from the field. Their struggles made Meralco's win all the more impressive: the Bolts shot 56.3% from the field and led wire-to-wire against the top-seeded Beermen.
On defense, Meralco limited San Miguel to just 38.9% from the field. June Mar Fajardo (21 points, 13 rebounds) and CJ Perez (23 points) got their numbers, but Marcio Lassiter was the only other SMB player in double-digits. The rest of the Beermen were held in check.
Newsome is confident that he will continue to find a way to contribute for Meralco, even with the San Miguel defense geared towards limiting him.
"This isn't the first time that teams have keyed in on me. We played Ginebra in how many series, and their defense was guaranteed to take me out and try to make it as difficult as possible for me," Newsome said.
"It's a situation I'm very familiar with. At the same time, that's what leads me to give confidence to my teammates. 'Cause if I know that a double-team is coming for me, I know someone's gonna be open, and they gotta have the confidence that they're gonna be able to hit those shots, if they're open," he added.
"They were able to hit some shots today, so that was a big plus for us."
Meralco coach Norman Black praised his players for their execution on offense, noting the aggressive play of their guards as well as the confidence of their big men to take the shots given to them by the SMB defense.
Yet at the same time, Black also stressed the need to get Newsome going as the series progresses.
"We just have to get New going -- I don't think he made a lot of points tonight, but he's our leading scorer," he said. "We have to study that and find out how they were able to slow him down and try to get him better shots at the basket."
Game 5 of the series is on Friday at the Araneta Coliseum.
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