HE gave up seven inches and over 40 pounds against a world-class import who once averaged almost 17 points in one NBA season.
If that wasn’t enough, he also was playing with a flu he got the last few days.
Still, Chris Ross stood his ground against Al Thornton in the extra sessions of San Miguel Beer’s 131-127 triple-overtime win against NLEX in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Tuesday night.
The 6-foot-8 Thornton still exploded for 69 points despite the 6-foot-1 Ross’s resolute defense in extra time.
After Thornton scattered 33 points in the third and fourth quarters, including the last three on a three-pointer that forced overtime, SMB coach Leo Austria decided to put Ross on the prolific import, who added 22 points the rest of the way.
“I tried to make it tough on him,” Ross said. “If he was going to be on the perimeter, I just used my quickness to stay in front of him. If he was going to use his strength on me in the post, I was trying to front him and make them throw it over the top.”
“He definitely has me stature-wise, so I was just trying to use all my heart and will to try to make it as tough as I can for him,” he added.
The Beermen rotated a couple of defenders on Thornton in the entire regulation before Ross solely took the unenviable task of shadowing him.
“He probably would’ve gotten to 80, man (if I hadn’t defended him),” Ross said with a smile. “Looking back, I wish I would’ve gotten him a little earlier. He got going in the third and fourth.”
“That dude, he’s amazing,” he added. “I said before that if he’s fully healthy, he would be on an NBA team playing significant minutes. That’s just how good he is.”
Still, the defense was not that bad for a man who has been struck by the flu over the weekend.
“I wasn’t supposed to be playing many minutes as I was under the weather,” said Ross, who ended up playing over 43 minutes and finished with seven points, three steals, two assists, and one board.
SMB coach Leo Austria naturally praised his ward for not disappointing him
"Give credit to the players, especially Chris Ross, who was guarding Al Thornton."