Ross, Tubid prepared for tougher road ahead vs E-Painters
June Mar Fajardo may be the focal point of San Miguel’s system, but even the two-time MVP admits that the Beermen won’t be a championship team with just him alone.
Take Game 1 of the best-of-7 semifinals series between San Miguel and Rain or Shine on Tuesday. Despite Fajardo pouring his heart out for three quarters with 25 points, the Beermen still trailed by 20 going to the payoff period.
Fortunately for him, the support system finally connected in the final 12 minutes as San Miguel stole a 109-105 victory from the clutches of Rain or Shine.
Fajardo got a boost from bench guys like Chris Ross and Ronald Tubid, who provided the spike in energy and the defensive intensity to help the Beermen comeback from a 22-point deficit.
“It’s the semifinals. It’s going to be a war especially with those guys being coached by coach Yeng (Guiao). Every game is going to be a war,” said Ross, who poured all seven of his points in the payoff period. But that was just the tip of the iceberg as his defensive efforts also proved to be crucial, finishing with seven steals after hounding the Elasto Painter guards all game-long.
Tubid, who dropped 11 of his 15 points in the fourth, said, “If they grind, we need to grind also. We need to match their energy and intensity. We need to focus on the little things, the looseballs, 50-50 balls. We need to be ahead.”
It was a lackadaisical effort for San Miguel in the first three quarters, and Ross zeroed in on what hampered the Beermen in those first 36 minutes.
“Our effort wasn’t there. We weren’t sprinting back on defense. They were just shooting layups, wide open shots, our effort wasn’t there,” he said. “It’s all about effort. If we can get enough stops and show effort for 48 minutes, we have a good chance to win the game.”
Despite the 20-day layoff, Ross hopes that the rust has already been shaken off in that supernova of a quarter, where San Miguel poured in 38 points against Rain or Shine’s 14.
“It’s the semifinals, so we can’t make it a habit getting down by 20 points every game and expect us to fight back, especially against Rain or Shine,” he said. “We’ll be ready, and hopefully, we can get 48 minutes of good basketball instead of playing ball for only 12 minutes. We have championship pedigree, our coach is a champion coach, we have two MVPs, and I think we know what it takes to win games in the playoffs.”
Tubid knows there’s a huge bullseye behind the Beermen’s back and that Rain or Shine is motivated than ever to dethrone them more.
“It’s their motivation beat us because we’re defending champions. We need to defend the All-Filipino crown. We need to grind. Every possession counts and we really need to focus on defense, the little things,” he said, which is why he is expecting no less when the two teams meet again on Thursday.
“More physical game, more grindout game, more mental game. Only the strong will survive,” said Tubid.
Ross likewise believes that the first game is only a harbinger of things to come for this semis series.
“This is just going to get tougher. Winning a championship or winning a series isn’t easy. The further we get, the tougher the games are going to be,” Ross said.
“We know it’s not going to be easy. These guys are a really tough team they played the best basketball, in my opinion, the whole conference. We have to bring our A-game if we want to win this series.”