CHRIS Ross is not pushing the panic button in the middle of San Miguel Beer’s unexpected early struggles in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
Expected to be almost unbeatable with the addition of top pick Christian Standhardinger, the Beermen reeled to a second straight defeat with a 123-119 overtime decision at the hands of Rain or Shine on Sunday.
The Beermen are 0-2 for the first time in three seasons, according to chief statistician Fidel Mangonon III, but Ross is hardly concerned.
“No,” Ross insisted. “We’ve been in all situations, so it’s alright.”
After all, the Beermen showed how formidable their local lineup is after import Troy Gillenwater was thrown out late in the first half as they built a 17-point lead early in the third quarter before the E-Painters took advantage of their reinforcement’s absence.
“Just cause he (Gillenwater) was gone doesn’t mean like … we had a lead and we just didn’t make enough plays in the end regardless of who was out there,” said Ross, who orchestrated the offense and finished with five assists, four boards, three steals, and two points in almost 38 minutes.
Arwind Santos shared his teammate’s sentiments after stepping up in the absence of Gillenwater, scattering 29 points – highlighted by six triples, nine rebounds, five blocks, four assists, and one steal before fouling out after 43 minutes as a starter.
Alex Cabagnot was one assist shy of a triple-double as he registered 14 points and 13 rebounds, while June Mar Fajardo tallied 26 points and 11 boards; and Marcio Lassiter chipped in 18 points on four triples, five assists, two steals, one board, and one block.
The Beermen also got a huge boost from Christian Standhardinger who was more aggressive after a quiet debut, finishing with 17 points – 15 in the first half – on 8-of-20 shooting, 15 rebounds, and four assists in 35 minutes off the bench.
“Hindi naman namin nakita na malaking kawalan yung import namin,” Santos said. “Kasi marami nang beses dumaan ang San Miguel sa ganyang sitwasyon. Lalo na andyan si Christian. Malaking bagay kahit wala kang import, may kapalitan si June Mar o may kapalitan din ako.”
Asked if Gillenwater is still the right import for them, Ross is focused on putting in his own work for them to snap the early skid.
“We’ll see. I feel like he’s a good fit for us, but you know how it is – we’re O and two and things happen, people want to make change. I don’t know,” the Filipino-American playmaker said.
“We do our job by going to practice, playing with whoever’s there and leave it up to whoever makes the decisions,” he added.