CHRIS Ross is a major piece in San Miguel Beer’s rotation that Arwind Santos knows the team can’t afford to lose him especially in games when the outcome is on the line.
Good thing such was not the case when the Fil-Am point guard was banished on the court on account of the second technical foul called on him in the Beermen’s win over the tough NLEX Road Warriors in their PBA Philippine Cup showdown at the Astrodome.
Ross lost his cool after engaging coach Yeng Guiao in a heated exchange of words at the sidelines during a deadball situation inside the final two minutes of the heated match.
Both Ross and Guiao were assessed a technical foul each, although the call was the second one for the San Miguel playmaker that led to his outright ejection.
Santos could only heave a sigh of relief the Beermen were already control by then and leading by as much as 10 points.
“Ang mahirap pag crucial. Mabuti 10 points yung lead (namin). Paano kung pukpukan yun? Na-thrown out siya, e alam naman natin gaano ka importante siya,” said the lanky forward, who actually had a brilliant game of 26 points and 13 rebounds, including 5-of-12 from three-point range in the Beermen's fourth straight win.
But he understands where Ross is coming from. As per San Miguel coach Leo Austria, Guiao allegedly hurled racist remarks on the 30-year-old guard that prompted him to snap, a claim which the NLEX mentor vehemently denied.
Whatever, Santos said the entire team is behind Ross.
“Ganun talaga si Chris, yung kapatid namin. Kapag tama siya, pinaglalaban niya. Hindi siya humihinto run,” said the 35-year-old former league MVP.
“Andito lang naman kami sa likod niya.”
At the same time, he’s also giving Guiao the benefit of the doubt, having known the fiery mentor from way back and even played under him as part of the pre-Gilas national team in 2009.
“Si coach Yeng ganun lang talaga yun. Ako nga inaanak niya ako sa kasal, pero mumurahin ka niyan kapag game,” disclosed a smiling Santos.
“Pero outside the game, mabait yan. Ganun lang talaga (siya) kapag game.”
Santos was the one who tried to pacify Ross to prevent the confrontation from getting out of hand. While he was not privy to what really transpired, he is not encouraging the use of any racist remark if indeed, Guiao said it.
But in the end, he said everything was all part of the game.
“Kasi lahat naman tayo ayaw matalo,” he stressed. “Yung iba nga diyan magkakapatid, pero magkakalaban, nagkakapisikalan, nagkakapersonalan.
“Ganun lang talaga ang buhay basketbolista.”