IT WAS almost another late-game, free throw-related blunder for San Miguel Beer guard Chris Ross.
Thankfully, June Mar Fajardo was there to save the day.
Usually reliable from the line, Ross missed two shots from the stripe which would have given the Beermen a three-point cushion against Magnolia with 24 seconds left in their PBA Philippine Game face-off on Sunday night.
To Ross' relief, Fajardo came to the rescue by grabbing the offensive rebound and calmly sinking two foul shots, icing a 77-76 win for the Beermen on Sunday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
“I told him I love you,” Ross, whose technical foul after taking a free throw intended for Chico Lanete proved costly in an SMB loss to Ginebra last week, said with a smile after he was seen hugging Fajardo at the end of the sequence.
“I said, 'Thank you, brother,' I gave him a big hug, that’s what teammates are for. He picked me up when I missed those two crucial ones and that’s what teammates are for,” he added.
His late wobble from the foul line was basically a microcosm of the team’s overall struggle from the field as the usually efficient Beermen were dragged into a defensive grind by the Hotshots.
Ross finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, but made just four of his 18 shots from the field. As a team, the Beermen shot just 31 percent.
But for last season’s Mythical team member, the most important thing at the end of the day is the W.
“All that really matters is the win. Despite the shooting numbers, it was a defensive battle. At the end of the day we made enough shots to win, that’s really all that matters,” said Ross.
“It was a hard-fought game, it was a battle. Definitely a playoff atmosphere. I hope the fans enjoyed it cause we definitely enjoyed playing it,” he added.
Asked if he’s comfortable playing games with that kind of intensity and such high level of physicality, Ross answered in the affirmative.
It’s all about adjusting to the calls that the referees make, he said.
“We got some big guys, we’re pretty physical, but it’s a double-edged sword. Physicality is part of basketball. We’ll adjust as much as we can and try to figure out what we’ll do going forward.”