Meralco Bolts doing their part to give Chris Newsome a shot at making FIBA World Cup with Gilas Pilipinas

Chris Newsome as the only member of the Meralco Bolts roster to be part of the Philippines team that won the men's 5x5 basketball gold medal at the recent 32nd Southeast Asian Games. Ariya Kurniawan

Chris Newsome was the only player from Meralco Bolts in the Philippines roster that won the gold medal in the recent Southeast Asian Games.

He is arguably also the Bolt with the best chance at cracking the 12-man Gilas Pilipinas lineup for the upcoming 2023 FIBA World Cup.

As such, the team is doing everything it can to help him make the final roster. This includes sitting him out for the ongoing PBA On Tour to preserve his body.

"We're praying and we're hoping he gets a chance with Gilas because that's once in a lifetime," Bolts coach Luigi Trillo said moments after the team picked up a 96-88 win over Converge FiberXers on Sunday.

"When guys were down, he stepped up in the SEA Games. So we want 'New' focused. That's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity where our country is at stake.

"I hope he gets a chance and we're not gonna pressure him back because that's the most important thing for him."

Newsome missed a chunk of the 2022-23 PBA Commissioner's Cup with a calf injury, but other than that has been durable over the past four seasons for Meralco.

"We had six out of seven conferences where we made the semis," Trillo noted. "And that's solid.

"'New' -- his calf has been hurting him. It's good for him that he also has time to heal. He's there in practice, he's engaged, but we realize he needs some time to rest.

"If we feel that he doesn't make it, then we welcome him back. But for now, my mind and thoughts would be, he's got to focus on the national team."

Newsome welcomed his team's support, telling ESPN: "I'm super thankful to the coaching staff and, of course, the management of Meralco for even allowing me to be considered in the pool and lending me out for national team duties.

"To have their support, it means everything to me because this is a dream of mine that I've been wanting to be a part of Gilas for the longest time.

"And I finally get that chance and now they're actually allowing me to give everything I have, completely focused on that and make sure that my body and my health is there so that way I can put my best out there for the country."

The eight-year veteran said he was "feeling good" and ready to go for Gilas practice, which resumes Wednesday, even as he has one eye focused on the Bolts and the new system they're running.

"I had to time to recover after the SEA Games," added Newsome. "That's kind of where I am right now, getting ready for my start up again with Gilas on Wednesday.

"(I'm) just looking forward to that and, of course, trying to keep up with everything that's going on here with Meralco.

"We got new coaches here, we're gonna be changing some things up and I've got to really stay up to date with what's going on. So that way it's easy for me to come in whenever the time is ready. I can make that learning curve just a lot quicker just by me being in practice.

"Of course, that's tough to do because I'm one of the main guys here, so them having me out that gives an opportunity for a lot of other guys to step up.

"I feel like now's the time for some of those younger guys to come in and get those minutes and get a lot of experience as well. And that could very well help us later in the season whenever we need other guys to step up."

Newsome was also excited to be reuniting with some of his fellow gold medal winners on Wednesday, as he stated: "Especially after winning that gold medal in Cambodia, I've been itching to get back on the court and get ready for this World Cup because I know that that's gonna be a really big event for any basketball player.

"We always look forward to either an NBA championship or a World Cup.

"To actually be considered, it's an honor. I hope I am selected, so even if I'm not selected, I'm going to give everything I have at practice and just do my best to help the guys prepare.

"My whole focus right now is just making sure I'm available and that at I can be at my best when I'm called upon, and that's all I can control for now."