“As far as what’s going on this year, it’s definitely a redemption year for us. That’s the great motivation we can use heading to the competition,” Newsome said in an interview with Playitright TV, a YouTube sports channel hosted by Quinito Henson and Dyan Castillejo.
With Indonesia expected to field a much stronger squad, the 6-foot-2 Filipino American guard said the Philippine team can’t afford to give up an inch in its bid to regain the gold when the SEA Games men’s basketball competition begins on May 9 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
“It’s something we can’t take for granted because every team has been leveling up their skills and their players,” he said.
“Competition has definitely been rising in Southeast Asia and we definitely can’t take it for granted. Losing that gold last year was a reality check for us.”
Although the usual Gilas Pilipinas mainstays like June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Poy Erram and Roger Pogoy will not be able to play in Cambodia as they are still recovering from injuries, as well as Jamie Malonso and Mikey Williams who begged off for personal reasons, Newsome is confident that the remaining players from the pool are capable of holding the fort.
“We’ve got a good mixture of veterans and young guns here,” said the 32-year-old former PBA Rookie of the Year.
“The young guys are definitely gonna be the future, and we’ve got athletic guys from La Salle and Mason (Amos) who can shoot the lights out and that’s gonna be great for them to get as much experience as they can at the international level.”
Newsome will be making his SEA Games men’s basketball debut since first seeing action in the SEA Games 3×3 tournament, which he helped win the gold in the 2019 edition held in Manila.
“I’m still new in the international scene with one window as a 32-year-old and a lot of these guys (in the pool) have a lot of experience playing in the PBA, being team captains who represent different squads,” said Newsome.
“We just got to make sure our chemistry is on point and everybody understands their role but we definitely will come in and want to claim that gold back for the Philippines and just be the best in Southeast Asia. That’s what Filipino pride is all about.”
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