Chris Ross credits teammates: ‘Everyone was up to the task’
Chris Ross was back to his old self Friday night in San Miguel’s 111-102 win after his worst performance of the series in Game 4 of the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals.
The freshly-minted Best Player of the Conference finished with 10 points, 11 assists, five steals, and four rebounds to help the Beermen move within a win of ending their drought in the mid-season conference.
But San Miguel first had to recover from a lackluster showing made worse by TNT’s hot shooting in the first half, where it trailed by 61-46, at halftime.
“We have a really great discussion at halftime,” he said. “We know we didn’t play good basketball in the first half. We just told everyone to dig deep, find that championship spirit that we know we have, and luckily – I don’t know if it’s a switch or sense of desperation, we came out in the third quarter and locked down defensively, picked the pressure up, and it went our way.”
Arwind Santos changed the complexion of the game for the Beermen in the second half, dropping 14 points in the period as the rest of the team buckled down on defense.
Ross praised their team captain’s efforts in shutting down the hot-shooting Ranidel de Ocampo in the next two periods, saying, “Arwind came out and he was amazing for us. He stuck on Ranidel, made some big shots, kind of turn the tide for us.”
San Miguel continued to control the pace, speeding up the game with June Mar Fajardo on the bench.
Ross said that the way the team played is a testament on the caliber the players the Beermen have, that even though the three-time PBA MVP is on the bench, the team can still hold their own against the best of the opposing team.
“I mean, we’re a pretty deep team, and we have a lot of guys that can play, lot of guys that are really talented,” he said. “Even if June Mar sits down, Arwind can fill in. It’s just like we’re playing all-Filipino. We’re used to that, we have four shooters on the outside and one big man and it makes us quicker defensively. Even without June Mar out there, I think everyone was up to the task and when June Mar is in there, we got to figure out some ways for him to be productive for us.”
Now owning a 3-2 series lead, San Miguel has a golden chance to wrap up the series on Sunday.
However, Ross expects TNT to give its all for Game 6, noting that the hardest game of any series is always the clincher.
“They always say the first game is hard and the closeout game is the hardest. We know that those guys are not gonna lay down. Every game has been a battle,” he said. “We gonna try to get as much rest as possible, look at film, see where what went wrong when they went up by 15 and try to correct those things, and come out for battle on Sunday.”