FOR the second straight game, it took San Miguel Beer until the last possession to hold off a gritty Star team in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series.
Heaving a sigh of relief after Paul Lee’s floater went a bit wide right to escape with a 77-76 win in Game Two to tie the best-of-five series last Monday, the Beermen turned to Marcio Lassiter’s three-pointer that kissed the glass for a 111-110 win in Game Three and moved the Beermen on the cusp of another finals stint.
And Chris Ross expects nothing different come Game Four on Friday night when the Beermen try to close out the series.
“We’re trying everything, and it’s going to be like that when there are two really good teams,” Ross said after Game Three. “We’re not really going to get a blowout, so we know that.”
Ross sustained his stellar play in the offseason, putting up another all-around performance of 27 points, eight assists, eight rebounds, three steals, and one block in 42 minutes.
But the veteran Filipino-American playmaker believes it will take more than his best to finish off a Hotshots side anchored by a workhorse of an import in Ricardo Ratliffe whose 44-point, 19-rebound, seven-assist, and four-block performance went for naught.
One thing the Beermen can do to try and avoid a last-possession situation is to match the rebounding prowess of the Hotshots, who beat them off the boards, 57-37, in Game Three.
“They’re killing us on the rebounds, and we know that,” Ross admitted. “We’re trying to team rebound, but Ratliffe’s just getting every single rebound.”
“So as long as we can bridge that gap, I think they’ll make it easier for us to win,” he added. “I’m not saying it’ll be easy to win, but easier than what it’s been.”
Still, Ross is reminding his teammates not to get ahead of themselves.
“Just play hard, just not thinking about winning the game, but just going out there and taking care of your job each and every play, and bringing playoff-level intensity,” Ross said. “Those guys aren’t going to lay down. It’s been a battle all three games and expecting the same thing on Friday.
“The hardest game to get is the close-out game and we’re aware of that, so we’ll rest tomorrow and make some adjustments, and come out ready on Friday,” he added.