Chris Ross shrugs off strained thigh, insists SMB can win with or without him
Chris Ross sits out the second half of Game 3 owing to a strained thigh. Jerome Ascano

CHRIS Ross played down his strained right thigh that kept him out of the second half in San Miguel Beer’s 95-87 loss to Ginebra in Game Three of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals on Tuesday night.

The Beermen felt the absence of the SMB star playmaker in the last two quarters when they went down by as many as 14 points and saw their lead in the best-of-seven series reduced to 2-1.

But Ross insisted the Beermen can manage without him, pointing out how the team made a late run to pull within three points down the stretch.

“We’re a champion team,” Ross said. “Just cause I’m not there doesn’t mean we’re not a champion team. We got a lot of fighters in our team and I got faith in everybody who coach puts in that’s gonna go out there and compete.”

“It didn’t surprise me at all that we had a chance in the end to pull, to get close,” he added. “The ball only bounced their way today so we’ll make some adjustments tomorrow and be ready to play on Thursday.”

Gin Kings coach Tim Cone underlined the importance of Ross to the Beermen.

“He’s a huge, huge difference on that team,” Cone said of the player he had an altercation with last season due to a garbage-time three pointer. “Everybody knows how good he is, his impact, but I still think it’s underrated. He’s a special player.

“I don’t hope that he’s injured, but if he is, we’ll try to take advantage,” he added.

Ross reveled he has been nursing his injury since before Game Two, where he played almost 40 minutes, but was limited to just 16 minutes on Tuesday night, contributing six points, five boards, three assists, and one steal in 16 minutes, before sitting out the entire second half.

“It was hurting before Game Two and I just played through it,” Ross said. “Got some treatment yesterday. It was ok, felt ok, and then in the first quarter, felt something and couldnt really move it. We dont know what it is. We’ll gonna look at it tomorrow and go from there.”

But the two-time reigning all-Filipino Finals MVP vowed to play in Game Four on Thursday night.

“I’ll be ready. I’m a warrior,” Ross said.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos