MERALCO’S Chris Newsome, Allein Maliksi and Raymond Almazan shift their focus to national team duties after the Bolts’ failed bid in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
The Bolts’ stalwarts are among the 24 players coach Chot Reyes called up for Gilas Pilipinas’ preliminary pool for the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) World Cup Asian Qualifiers fourth window games against Lebanon and Saudi Arabia on Aug. 25 and 29, respectively.
Among the three, the Fil-Am Mr. Newsome is the most excited.
Although he previously suited up for the gold-winning Gilas 3×3 team in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, this, if ever, would be his first in a FIBA tournament after getting declared eligible to play as a “local” by the basketball body.
“I look forward to that and kind of take that moment that I haven’t done here. I’m excited to finally wear that jersey for 5-on-5,” Mr. Newsome said.
“Hopefully, I make that final roster. I think it will be a great experience for me, for a lot of guys who have never donned the uniform. It’s for the country and I take the utmost honor and respect to serve my country,” he added.
It will be a comeback of sorts for both Messrs. Maliksi and Almazan, who had previous tours with Gilas.
The Meralco boys are set to join a jacked-up Gilas crew led by NBA player Jordan Clarkson and NBA prospect Kai Sotto that’s preparing for the matches against FIBA Asia Cup runner-up Lebanon in Beirut and the Saudis at the MOA Arena next week. — Olmin Leyba