Chris Ross plays down NLEX as legit SMB grand slam threat: 'We're playing against ourselves'
Chris Ross believes the biggest obstacle for SMB's Grand Slam bid is the Beermen themselves. Jerome Ascano

CHRIS Ross refused to label NLEX as a legitimate threat to San Miguel Beer’s grand slam bid this PBA season, insisting it’s the Beermen’s own performance that will determine whether they accomplish the historic feat or not.

The Road Warriors underlined their marked improvement and their title credentials with a statement 103-100 win over the Beermen in their Governors’ Cup matchup on Sunday night.

Still, that won’t convince Ross to tag NLEX – or any team for that matter – as a biggest obstacle to the triple crown.

“They’re a good team, but we don’t really look at other teams like that,” Ross said after the game. “If we play our type of ball…I feel like we’re playing against ourselves. NLEX, they’ve got better, they’ve made some trades, but I feel like if we do some things better, we get healthier, we’ll be right there.”

“It’s still early in the eliminations,” the reigning Commissioner’s Cup Best Player of the Conference added. “We haven’t been complete pretty much all conference, so we’ll just keep going, keep practicing, keep getting better, look forward to next game and getting healthy.”

After all, June Mar Fajardo is still recovering from his calf injury as the SMB cornerstone played less than 21 minutes against the Road Warriors and contributed six points and six rebounds, and committed four turnovers.

With the reigning MVP limited, Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot, and Marcio Lassiter continued to carry more of the load among the locals, while Ross ran the offense as he finished with four points, 11 assists, five boards, and four steals without a single turnover in 38 minutes.

While not taking anything away from the Road Warriors, Ross reiterated his stance that how the Beermen perform will gauge if they win or lose games – and eventually the grand slam.

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“I’m not worried about NLEX. I’m worried about us, man,” Ross said. “I’m not worried about any other team. Whatever happens in the game, you win some, you lose some. We’re not looking at other teams.”

“We’re just trying to fix what’s going on in our locker room, so as long as we stick to what we do, get healthy, then we’ll have a shot,” he added.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos