HAD it slow in the early goings of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) estart, do-it-all Meralco Bolts guard Chris Newsome has picked it up of late and it has been a boon to his team.

The recently named PBA Philippine Cup player of the week, Mr. Newsome, 30, has been key in the improved showing of Meralco (3-2) that has seen it be in the mix in the race to the top.

The former Ateneo standout, in particular, was big-time in their last two matches, both victories, averaging 20.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and six assists.

His stat line has improved from his first three matches of 9.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and four assists, where they went 1-2.

Mr. Newsome has been more aggressive and providing the motor that the Bolts need in the tournament.

More telling, he is stepping up at the most opportune of time, including draining big shots and making big plays in their game against the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok in their come-from-behind 109-104 overtime victory on Oct. 20.

That performance, where he had 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists, set the tone for him en route to getting the nod for player of the week honors given by media covering the league.

Meralco was set to play the defending champions San Miguel Beermen later on Wednesday, staking their two-game winning streak.

Meanwhile, the PBA deemed it fit to postpone the opening game between the Blackwater Elite and Magnolia on Wednesday at the Angeles University Foundation Arena in Pampanga as part of league protocols and “pending approval of the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emergin Infectious Diseases).”

Recently, a Blackwater player tested positive for the coronavirus but was later considered “false positive” after yielding negative results in confirmatory antigen and reverse transcription polymerase reaction (RT-PCR) tests.

The player, however, remains at the quarantine facility in the Athletes’ Village in Capas, Tarlac, until he is allowed to come back in the bubble and go through re-entry protocols.

The whole Blackwater team, as well as the TNT Tropang Giga, whom the Elite faced in their last game, were isolated as a precautionary measure while the results of the confirmatory tests on the player were being awaited last weekend.

The Blackwater-Magnolia game will be rescheduled to a later date. 

Games on Thursday, meanwhile, have the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters (4-2) taking on the Alaska Aces (4-3) in the 4 p.m. opener to be followed at 6:45 p.m. by the match pitting the TNT (5-0) against the NLEX Road Warriors (1-5). — Michael Angelo S. Murillo