Seeing how Meralco’s veteran playmaker Jimmy Alapag carries himself—on and off the court—is already a source of motivation for the younger Bolts.
Count rookie Chris Newsome among them.
The athletic 6-foot-2 Newsome was visibly thrilled to see the 5-foot-7 Alapag come through in the clutch again on Wednesday night as the Bolts completed a thrilling come-from-behind 92-87 victory over the Alaska Aces that tied up their best-of-five 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals series at one game-apiece.
Alapag, 38, overcame a rough shooting night by making his presence felt in Meralco’s big charge from a 63-77 deficit early in the fourth canto, even coming up with a booming triple over the outstretched arms of Alaska import Rob Dozier while providing the needed stability in the stretch.
Fondly called as “The Mighty Mouse,” Alapag also accounted for a game-high eight assists and added two steals while teaming up with fellow veteran Jared Dillinger, Reynel Hugnatan, import Arinze Onuaku and Newsome in their strong windup.
Newsome, 25, who finished with 19 points, eight rebounds, three assists and a steal against three errors, admitted he continues to be impressed of Alapag.
“It inspires me a lot,” said the former Ateneo Blue Eagles standout. “I have seen how he’s working in their practice when he was still with Talk ’N Text because we were practicing after them at Moro Lorenzo (gym).”
“To see the amount of work that he puts in everyday and to see it pays off in this game, it assures me I’m doing the right thing and that i’m also putting in the work to continue get better in my game. It’s just an affirmation that hard work pays off,” added Newsome, the fourth overall pick of the Bolts in last year’s rookie draft.
Aside from his offensive production, Newsome also did his ample share on the defensive end by helping stymie Alaska counterpart RJ Jazul, who could only score four markers, a big letdown from his 18-point performance during the Aces’ 97-94 victory in the opener last Monday.
“He wasn’t necessarily my assignment for the whole night but there were times that I’m on him. I know he’s playing with a lot of confidence right now. He’s a great, talented player. My job was to make it hard for him,” said Newsome.
“Last game, I’ve been into foul trouble so I made a conscious effort to try to play good, honest defense against him. (I) try to use my length because I’m taller and my reach is bigger than him. I used basically all the advantages I had against him. I know he’s a very smart player.” – By Jerome Lagunzad
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