Even with an injury that could have been serious, Chris Ross didn’t care.
Hobbled by a strained right thigh ever since the San Miguel Beermen’s 2018 Philippine Cup semifinal clash with Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, the 33-year-old decided to play through it and even made a mark come the Finals.
Ross had 13 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, and eight steals — he was two steals away from the first-ever quadruple-double in PBA history — in San Miguel’s succesful Philippine Cup four-peat bid over the Magnolia Hotshots on Friday.
“My gas tank is… no more gas. It’s on E. But I wanted to end it tonight,” said Ross of his outing. “[But] It’s cool that I was close [to that record].
“My leg’s killing me and I just didn’t want to chance it anymore. Because it could probably tear more or pop or something. So I really wanted to end it tonight. I told the coaches don’t give me any minutes restriction. Just let me play.
“And lucky we made enough plays in the end to win the game,” admitted the reigning two-time Defensive Player of the Year, who averaged 7.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and 3.0 steals in the championship series.
“Every time he played, he’s under the influence of pain-killer. And alam ko how strong and brave he is when it comes to this kind of game. Every important game, makikita natin na nagpe-perform siya,” lauded head coach Leo Austria, as he saw first hand what Ross had to go through in each game.
Moreover, the Texas-born, Filipino-American point guard played a huge part in San Miguel’s uprising from 23 down in Game Five — he even made a huge triple in the second overtime to give the Beermen a 99-94 lead to make it safer for them.
“Big-time moment. I had it in my head that if they came to me, I was gonna shoot it,” the nine-year veteran recalled. “They were playing off me today and it was a big shot and I was glad – I can’t remember who kicked it out to me.
“I think it was Arwind [Santos]? Arwind has confidence in me, I had confidence in myself, and I got it to go. It was a big shot but it wasn’t what won us the game obviously. But I love those types of moments. I love the Finals.”
And Ross was understandably extremely elated that they made history yet again — they have become the first team to win the Philippine Cup for four consecutive times.
“I wanted to cry, man, like tears of joy,” he recalled. “How hard we worked over the past four years, the grit we had to overcome the deficit today, and I was just proud of my guys because they didn’t give up. We had a terrible first half.
“But at halftime, me and Arwind [Santos] kind of lit a fire on everybody and everybody responded. That’s all I asked of them at halftime. I said just give it your all, let’s play our game and see what happens. If we lose, I’ll live with it,” he pointed out.
“I was glad that everybody responded and we were able to pull out this win again.“