CHRIS Ross always fantasized of this moment, him winning a gold medal as a member of Gilas Pilipinas.
But when all the confetti fell from the rafters, even the two-time PBA Defensive Player admitted it's still a surreal feeling for him to be in this position.
"It's never what you expect. You can't really put anything into words," he said after the Philippines' 115-81 conquest of Thailand on Tuesday to rule the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
"It's like, winning a championship. Even after I've won whatever amount, it's always a different feeling, it always gives me butterflies. Winning the gold, it's my first gold medal, my first time playing for the flag and country, it's really unexplainable. And to win it here at home, in front of the amazing fans and family, it's really special."
Ross has always wanted to be part of Gilas Pilipinas, even just the training pool.
He knows that his inclusion will always be a long shot, mostly due to him not having his Philippine passport by the age of 16.
But the doors opened when the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) decided to field an all-pro team.
The San Miguel guard made sure he made his imprint on the court, doing the dirty work as he posted 7.6 assists, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.4 steals.
With the depth of the Philippine team, Ross didn't need to score much. Yet in the semis tiff against Indonesia, he sparked the team's third quarter pullaway where he had nine of his 11 points to take the 97-70 victory.
The 34-year-old court general acknowledged that this Gilas run in the SEA Games may very well be his first and only run with the national team.
But if it is, he's just happy that he made the most of it.
"I mean, I can only control what I can control," he said. "I was called up, I'm so grateful to coach Tim (Cone) that he included me in the final 12. I just really want to take advantage of this situation because you never know what's gonna happen."
"I'm getting a little older and I don't think they're gonna change the rule anytime soon. So I just really wanted to take advantage of whatever opportunity I had, and luckily I had a great group of guys, a great group of coaches, and we really took advantage of it."