MANILA, Philippines -- As Chris Newsome goes, so does Meralco.
This is why head coach Norman Black is hoping that the athletic swingman will again put up a solid performance when the Bolts play Barangay Ginebra in Game 5 of their 2020 PBA Philippine Cup semis series on Friday.
The winner heads into the All-Filipino finals against the winner of the other do-or-die game between Phoenix Super LPG and TNT Tropang Giga.
Newsome has been Meralco's best player in the conference, and Black stressed that they will go as far as he can take them.
"He is to us what (Stanley) Pringle is to Ginebra," Black said bluntly. "He's our best player, I'm not afraid to say that. He's our leading scorer, one of our leading rebounders, our leading assist guy."
"And he has to defend the best player on the other team almost every game. So, we count on him a lot," he added.
When Newsome struggles -- as he did in Game 3 of the series -- so do the Bolts. In that game, Newsome made just two of 10 field goals for 12 points, and Meralco trailed by as much as 25 points before their last-ditch rally fell short. They lost, 91-84.
He was much better in Game 4, with 16 points, 11 rebounds, six steals, and five assists. His fifth dime of the game was most crucial: Newsome found Reynel Hugnatan open for the go-ahead jumper that gave Meralco an 81-80 lead with 15 seconds left.
Moments later, he scored in transition to peg the final score at 83-80 and send the series to a decider.
"The fact that he did not play that well in the last game is one of the reasons why we didn't win. The fact that he played well tonight is one of the reasons why we won," said Black.
"So as I always tell him, we kinda go as he goes," he added.
Against Ginebra, Newsome is averaging 14.25 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.25 assists, and 2.25 steals per game.
"Hopefully, he'll be well-rested on Friday, and he'll be on top of his game and we'll have a chance to win," Black said of his star.