CHRIS Ross insisted he meant no disrespect to Magnolia when he appeared to taunt the Hotshots bench with the game a foregone conclusion in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Sunday night.
After picking up a loose ball near Magnolia's bench midway through the fourth quarter with the Beermen up by 12, the Filipino-American playmaker faked a pass to the Hotshots players twice, looking like he was baiting them to get the ball from him, before he crossed to the half-court line to run their play.
That left sheepish smiles on the faces of PJ Simon and assistant coach Johnny Abarrientos. Hotshots coach Chito Victolero refused to bite, signaling his wards to run back on defense.
Ross said he meant no disrespect.
“Yeah, it’s (just part of the) fun. I don’t do anything to disrespect anyone,” Ross insisted. “I’m respectful to everyone.”
Just moments later, the two-time Finals MVP foung himself on the receiving end as Magnolia enforcer Rodney Brondial appeared to hit him on the back with a blind pick.
Ross shrugged it off.
“If they feel like they wanna… they have to dirty up the game, to try to get into my head or whatnot, I’m all for it, but I’m gonna play basketball how I know how to play basketball,” Ross said. “And respect the people that I have to respect.”
Ross showed he’s feeling better from a thigh injury as he started and played 34 minutes and contributed five points, including one triple, 10 assists, four boards, two steals, and only one turnover.
Still, SMB physiotherapists advised SMB coach Leo Austria to put a minutes restriction on Ross, who has been nursing a thigh injury since the semifinals.
“Yeah, I’m hurting, but it’s the finals,” Ross said. “I told coach, I’ll rest on a later date. I know my team needs me out there for us to be at full strength so just keep fighting through my injuries as much as I can.”
The series now takes a break to give way to the Holy Week before returning with Game Three on Easter Sunday, giving Ross' injury a lot of time to heal.
“It’s (break) huge,” the 33-year-old cager said. “Actually today is the best I felt since I hurt myself. With this week-long break, it’ll help me even more. So hopefully by Game Three, I’ll be closer to a 100 percent. Ready to go.”