Coming out party: Maverick Ahanmisi shines v Chris Ross defense

Even with a top defensive guard like Chris Ross all over him in the 1st 2 games of the semifinal series, Rain or Shine rookie Maverick Ahanmisi has showed steely nerves in facilitating the team’s offense.

The Fil-Nigerian freshman churned out another all-around game, finishing with 10 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and a steal as the Elasto Painters nipped the San Miguel Beermen, 98-96 on Tuesday in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Now up with a commanding 2-0 bulge, Rain or Shine could finish off the 2-time Philippine Cup champion on Thursday at the Philsports Arena and make a 2nd straight trip to the Commissioner’s Cup Finals.

“It just shows our character because I feel like we’re a really resilient team because we just try to do what we can to win games,” Ahanmisi told media men after the game.

The 25-year-old Ahanmisi said Ross’ airtight defense on him in Game 2 was in a way, a tribute to the hardwork he has had all season long.

“It’s always fun for him (Ross) to be hounding me. And it’s a testament to my hardwork also because that’s what he does, he tries to get you under your skin,” last year’s no. 3 overall pick in the PBA Draft said.

Ross is coming off a solid performance recently after being named the PBA Press Corps Finals MVP in the Beermen’s historic Philippine Cup title conquest.

The six-foot San Miguel Fil-Am guard was even named to the PBA’s All-Defensive team last season, a 1st in his 6-year career as a pro.

The glowing credentials of Ross though hardly intimidated Ahanmisi.

“He’s a good player and brings energy off the bench (for the Beermen). And when he starts, I just try to control the pace of the game even with him hounding me, and even if it’s distributing the ball and no scoring, its fine with me as long as we get the W,” he added.

Ahanmisi’s game flourished in the mid-season conference as coach Yeng Guiao gave him more time on the floor with veteran guard Paul Lee still working back into game shape. – By Richard Dy

Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava