CHRIS Newsome is delivering fine offensive performances and just posted a season-high in points, but the athletic small forward stresses that his focus is still on defense.
Newsome finished with a season-high 23 points on 13-of-21 shooting from the free throw line in Ateneo’s 78-73 win over UE on Wednesday but lost in the shuffle was his three shot blocks in the game. That didn’t include several chasedowns by Newsome that left UE blowing several lay-ups in the second half.
The Ateneo defender is currently averaging 1.2 blocks a game after nine games in the UAAP, better than taller players in Alfred Aroga of National University, Charles Mammie of University of the East, and Mark Juruena of University of the Philippines.
“Defense has always been a priority of mine,” said Newsome, who is also the fifth leading scorer in the league with 14.9 points per game. “They always say that defense wins championships. It has been that way and part of the Ateneo culture.”
“There is a banner in Moro (Moro Lorenzo Gym, practice facility of Ateneo) that says defense wins championship. I’m a strong believer in that. And I want to lead by example,” said Newsome.
Newsome said he happened to finish with the best game offensively thanks to Kiefer Ravena, who mostly draws the defense.
“A lot of attention has been on Kiefer. He is playing really well. Everybody else has to understand that. As far as me, I take it upon myself to lead by example.
“This team needs everybody else to be consistent for us to be a championship caliber team. That’s how I play my part. Defending, getting rebounds, hustling, doing whatever I can. Because I want the rest of my team to see that and also feed off that,” said Newsome, quickly adding that everyone in the squad is doing their part.
“If maybe Kiefer is in foul trouble, he can’t play as hard defensively as he normally does. We have somebody that is in there chasing around. Guys like (Nico) Elorde and (Von) Pessumal, they give a good job keeping the defensive intensity,” said Newsome.
The Blue Eagles, Newsome said, were just aching to bounce back after a loss to De La Salle. The win over UE pushed them back to the top of the standings with a 7-2 win-loss slate.
“Coming off the loss, we definitely needed this one. It’s one step to the right direction. That’s what I can honestly say. We have to build on this,” said Newsome.