CHRIS Ross insists his defense has not taken a backseat considering how he has stepped up on offense for San Miguel Beer in this PBA Philippine Cup Finals against Barangay Ginebra.
SMB’s defensive anchor sustained his fine play on the offensive end, firing 17 points built around five three-pointers, on top of nine assists, four boards, and one steal in 40 minutes.
But Ross stressed he has not sacrificed his defense one bit in the series.
“I would never do that,” the reigning Defensive Player of the Year said. “I’m a defensive player and I take pride in defense.”
“I’m focused on LA (Tenorio), try to limit LA, and when I go to Scottie (Thompson) or Sol (Mercado), I try to limit them as much as possible, so even if I’m scoring on offense, I would never take away from my defense,” he added.
Ross has been true to his word as LA Tenorio scored 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting, while Scottie Thompson and Sol Mercado combined for just 13 points on 6-of-20 shooting.
But Ross’ offense has stayed in step with his defense as the veteran playmaker, who averaged a mere 5.4 points in the eliminations where he scored in double digits just once in 11 games, has now scored in twin digits for nine games in a row in the playoffs.
He could’ve added to this three-pointer count, but missed his last attempt – with 19 seconds left and SMB up by seven points.
At least coach Tim Cone didn’t have to get mad this time.
“It’s still a close game, man. I don’t understand,” Ross said of his last triple that didn’t go in. “Last game, the guys were playing defense on me and what if he steals the ball and goes down and shoots a three, then they cut the lead down.”
“In the finals, you can’t afford to give up any game,” he added. “We just played until the end of the game.”
That’s why he refuses to see the light at the end of the tunnel yet despite moving on the cusp of an all-Filipino three-peat with a 3-1 lead.
“No, not yet. I told the guys it’s zero-zero,” Ross said. “We can’t look at it as we’re up. Whenever we’re up in the series, we just got to look at it as zero-zero, come tomorrow, look at film and adjust."
"I’m sure the crowd’s going to be crazy and we’ll be ready at what they throw at us,” he added.