Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chris Newsome - Waiting To Exhale

For two years years now, I have patiently awaited the coming of Chris Newsome. Fr. Nemy Que, Ateneo basketball team Chaplain described him as the kind of person you would want to be around. It was also intimated that Chris was actually being set up to try out with some PBA teams when he first came to the Philippines to discover his roots at the age of 19.  

He was at a crossroads when Coach Norman Black told him he could finish college in the US and come back here to play pro ball or he could finish his college basketball career here.  His decision to take the difficult road to sit out 2 years for residency requirements and play college ball  here speaks of his maturity and wisdom at an early age. He knew that getting a college degree carries a lot of stock, and being in the Philippines at an earlier stage of his career will improve his chances of getting into the PBA.

Sitting out two years may have been difficult but not as much as coming to the other side of the world, living alone, not knowing anyone, adjusting to life without family and a new environment, fending for yourself, at the same time coping with school work, house chores and practice. It certainly has not been an easy journey. 
Having met this personable young man through  Atenean Greg Slaughter in 2011, I could sense an easy confidence in him through his ready smile and cool demeanor. Yet, I felt there was more to him, lying just below the surface. I could sense this quiet, competitive spirit waiting to explode.

It has been quite a wait and after two long years in the sidelines, he will finally get to strut and see action with the Blue Eagles, and just like a kid waiting to open his first present on Christmas morning,  he will finally get to exhale.

Raddy Mabasa: Hi Chris! Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. First off, everyone knows you by your nickname, but what is your given name?
Chris Newsome: It's Christopher Elijah Newsome.
RM: You are originally from the United States? Where were you born?
CN: Yes, I was born in San Jose, California to Eric and Carmelita Newsome.
RM: How tall and how heavy are you?
CN: I'm 6'2'' and I weigh 185 lbs.
RM: In one of the first few times we talked back in 2011, I remember you telling me that you played some ball in the US?
CN: I played for New Mexico Highlands University for 3 years. This school was in Division 2 of the NCAA. I played point and shooting guard there.
RM: I also heard that you were half Filipino?
CN: I am Fil-Am! My mom is Filipina and was born here in the Philippines. I wanted to explore the Filipino part of my heritage by coming for a visit here with my dad.
RM: What were the circumstances surrounding your playing for the Blue Eagles?
CN: During that visit I went to a practice at the Ateneo and they offered me a chance to play basketball and study there. I had to decide to either play out 1 more year in the States or transfer. I was 20 years old when I made the move here.

RM: So, technically, you have 2 more playing years left at the University level?
CN: Yes, 2 years I look forward to playing for Ateneo.
RM: Why did you decide on Ateneo? Given your experience playing in the US, I'm sure there were other opportunities.
CN: Ateneo was the best fit for me to finish my degree, coming from an American University . I just felt more comfortable going to Ateneo over any other school I looked at.

RM: What course are you enrolled in?

CN: AB Communications.

RM: What do you see yourself doing after basketball?
CN: After my basketball playing years, I would like to be doing something with my communications degree. Maybe in TV or music.

RM: Speaking of music, I hear you play the piano very well.

CN: I learned to play the piano by myself. I started playing the piano at about age 16 and realized I could play some songs after listening to the music track. I like playing R & B usually and some classical music. I also am trying to do some composing.
RM: Going back to basketball, you had to  endure a 2 year residency. How difficult was it and how did you manage not playing competitive ball during this time?
CN: It was very difficult to "sit out" for 2 years. There were times I get this feeling like I almost forget how to play the game (lol). I made sure to keep my mind in the game by practicing a lot and watching the guys at Team-A play. I also took mental notes and watched a lot of basketball (NBA, PBA and the UAAP). Playing with Team-B helped stoke the competitive fires.

RM: What made you decide on a two year residency and playing another two years for Ateneo instead of playing out your last year in New Mexico and turning pro?

CN: Either way, I was going to end up trying to make it to the PBA, even if I did finish my studies in the US. I felt that coming over to Ateneo was best thing for me because I get to actually study in and play for a good school. I knew that this would open doors and lead to opportunities for me after I graduate.
RM: What differences are there playing for Team A and B?
CN: The game is faster and more intellectual on Team A compared to my experience on Team B.

RM: What are you looking forward to the most in this years games?

CN: It's got to be being in the intense atmosphere of a UAAP game and being on the court playing instead of watching from the sidelines. I remember watching an Ateneo - La Salle game and the atmosphere was electric. One side of the arena was in green and other blue. Back then I was imagining myself in blue and on the court.

RM: Let's go back a bit to how your career started. How old were you when you got started playing organized basketball? 
CN: I started playing competitive basketball when I was in grade 7 but always loved playing at the parks and my backyard before that.

RM: Did someone introduce you to playing competitive ball? Did you have to go through trying out for a team?

CN: I've always had a keen interest in competitive organized basketball but there were not many leagues nearby where I was growing up. My first school try out was in my 7th grade and I did make the team!
RM: Did you get into any other sports before or after basketball?  Was playing another sport beneficial for you?
CN: I started off playing soccer and American football. Yes, they were both beneficial and have a lot to do with my athletic ability and body build. 

RM: I noticed that during practice, especially during scrimmages, you love to run, jump and dunk the ball…How did this come about?

CN: I think I have been blessed with better than average athletic ability. Would you believe that my first dunk in a game was in my 2nd year of high School?

RM: Is this a part of your basketball persona?

CN: I am definitely known for my running and jumping abilities, so I would say that, yes, this is part of my persona as a player.

RM: Ateneo has always preached the importance of defense. How would you rate yourself on defense?

CN: About a 7 out of 10, but always trying to improve. There is always room for improving on one's abilities and fine tuning your skills.

RM: Who are you closest to on the team?

CN: I'm close to all of my teammates, past and incoming, but I do have classes with Von (Pessumal) this semester so I see him more than any other teammate off the court.
RM: Who do you consider your biggest influence?

CN: My family has always been my biggest influence. They have supported me 100% and have been behind me since day 1. As far as players are concerned, I admire quite a few NBA players like Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant, Derek Rose, Russell Westbrook and Kyrie Irving. They are very talented and great at what they do.

RM: Are you officially a Filipino Citizen? Do your basketball plans extend to the PBA?

CN: Yes, I am proudly a Filipino Citizen. After college I definitely plan on trying to extend my playing career to the PBA.

RM: How do you prepare yourself for a game? Any pre-game rituals?

CN: I like to take a quick nap, listen to loud music, some dancing and jumping around and them eat some sort of candy...Life Savers and Gummies are my favorite.

RM: What is a typical practice day like?

CN: These days its all about going to the gym, lifting weights and conditioning. Then I do some shooting and ball skills before the team practice. After our team practice I usually like to stay behind and again do some extra work on my shooting.

RM: You are really getting in shape for this years games! More or less, you have told us a bit about your basketball persona, but can you tell us, who is Chris Newsome?
CN: I am someone who is motivated by the people who matter most to me. My family keeps me going even though they are on the other side of the world. Other than that, I love music. Hip-Hop and R & B usually, but I am open to any kind of music. I also like playing video games like COD, 2K and FIFA and watching movies.

Chris with Ateneo basketball team Chaplain, Fr. Nemy Que.

No comments:

Post a Comment