Confession of a rookie: Newsome admits Caguioa his inspiration to become a PBA player
Chris Newsome says his mother once brought with her back to the US a souvenir of Mark Caguioa’s popular No. 47 jersey as ‘pasalubong’ to the then 12-year-old. “Seeing that jersey kind of introduced me to Philippine basketball,” he says. Dante Peralta

IT’S not Chris Newsome’s intention to reveal how old Mark Caguioa is. It’s more of illustrating how he admires the player that has long been considered the face of the Barangay Ginebra franchise.

The Meralco rookie lets in on a little anecdote about how his mother once brought with her back to the US a souvenir of Caguioa’s popular No. 47 jersey  as ‘pasalubong’ to the then 12 year old.

The Fil-Am guard admitted not knowing who Caguioa was, and actually, what the PBA in general was all about.

“Seeing that jersey kind of introduced me to Philippine basketball,” he said.

The next thing he did was to look for and search a little bit on line about Caguioa, who his mother told him was among the most popular basketball players in the country.

“So I went online, looked up who he is, looked at his picture, video clips, and all those stuff," he said. "Right there kind of start my dream of becoming a Philippine basketball player. That kind of appreciated him at all.”

Fast forward to the present, and here is Newsome in his first PBA finals with Meralco and the Bolts are up against Caguioa and the Kings for the Governors Cup championship.

Caguioa, still a sophomore when Newsome got his jersey as a present, was naturally awed – and surprised – with the story the Meralco guard told during the pre-finals press conference at the PBA Café on Thursday.

“He didn’t know it until right now,” said a smiling Newsome, now the leading contender for the season’s Rookie of the Year award.

Newsome said he still has the shirt back in the U.S.

"It’s actually back home in Mexico,” said Newsome, who attended college at the New Mexico Highlands before transferring to Ateneo to play in the UAAP. “Yeah, I still have it.”

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It never really entered his mind that one day he’ll be able to play against Caguioa, more so in this kind of environment.

“Who would have thought that from the time she (mother) bought that jersey for me until now where I am going to a finals series against him (Caguioa), I never would have foreseen that,” said Newsome.

“Definitely blessed to have those exchange of events happen to me and definitely blessed to be in this finals series.”

Newsome, who also counts Meralco teammate Jimmy Alapag as another of his idols, said he likes Ginebra as a team, but isn't necessarily a die-hard follower.

“Just growing up, those are one of the first teams I got introduced to, with the jersey and everything like that. So I guess I can say yeah, I’m a Ginebra fan from that point on,” he said.

And when everything is done and over with, win or lose, Newsome has one more wish he hopes Caguioa will grant him.

“I’m hoping after this series, I can get another one of his jerseys,” he said with a chuckle.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos