Meralco Bolts’ Chris Newsome the PBA Philippine Cup. –PBA IMAGES

Chris Newsome allayed fears of a serious injury that could play a big factor in Meralco’s chances of advancing to the quarterfinals of the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup.

“I think I can play,” Newsome told reporters after the Bolts prevailed, 82-76, over the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum, improving their record to 4-5 for eighth place with two games left in their elimination round schedule.

Newsome left the Big Dome walking with an obvious limp and an electronic contraption placed on his left leg, which got entangled during the final seconds of the contest.

How he’ll play, or how his availability is determined will be known by Sunday when Meralco begins a pair of tough tests that will determine its playoff fate with a faceoff against Magnolia at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.

Meralco’s last elimination round match is on May 4, an out-of-town meeting with current leader San Miguel Beer in Batangas City.

“New brings a lot to the table,” said coach Luigi Trillo. “Hopefully he’s OK. But again, if you look at Ginebra, [Scottie Thompson] goes down, they win a couple. By the time Scottie’s back, they’re OK.“So hopefully, if New goes out, we have every other guy to step up to the plate. But hopefully, it’s nothing serious.”

Snapping losing streak

Newsome had 15 points, six rebounds and three assists before the injury as Meralco bounced back from two consecutive defeats, including a shock 104-99 decision to previously winless Converge last weekend.

Having a string of injuries is the last thing Trillo and the Bolts want, given that another key player has been going through pain.

Allein Maliksi scored eight of his 13 points in the fourth for Meralco while dealing with a sore knee, according to Trillo.

“Allein’s a warrior,” said Trillo. “He wasn’t supposed to play because he had something injected on his knee. And I’m proud of him because he was a spark for AB (Aaron Black) and New.”

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Black was Player of the Game after his 18-point, four-rebound, four-assist production, numbers Meralco will need to punch its ticket to the quarters.

While the Bolts put themselves in the comfort zone, the Fuel Masters are now in desperation mode after a second-straight loss relegated them to 3-7 with a game to play.

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A win over Blackwater on May 4 at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City may keep a slim hope of at least a playoff for the last quarters berth. But in most circumstances, four victories are no assurances of progressing past the classification phase.

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