San Miguel Beer guard Chris Ross came to the defense of sacked import Tyler Wilkerson, convinced the emotion of his fellow Marshall U standout just got the best of him following the Beermen’s back-to-back losses against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in their best-of-five PBA Commissioners Cup semifinals showdown.
The 6-foot-8 Wilkerson, 27, was given the pink slip by San Miguel Beer team management on Wednesday after his post-game tantrums that saw him storming his way out of Smart-Araneta Coliseum following the Beermen’s close 96-98 loss in Game 2 last Tuesday.
But even without Wilkerson, San Miguel Beer staved off elimination in Game 3 on Thursday night by hacking out an all-important 104-98 victory over Rain or Shine at the PhilSports Arena, thanks to a rejuvenated offensive attack from an All-Filipino crew led by gunner Marcio Lassiter.
“He’s a competitor,” said Ross of Wilkerson, who teamed up for two seasons under the Thundering Herd’s green-and-white colors.
“That’s in everyone’s blood. Everybody wants to win. Everyone hates to lose especially when your goal is to win the championship. We’re losing in the semifinals and everyone’s getting mad.”
Ross added Wilkerson has already expressed his apologies to his fellow Beermen, the management and the top officials following the unfortunate development.
The do-it-all playmaker, who collected 12 assists and five steals despite a two-point outing, admitted Wilkerson still remains one of the biggest reasons why they have reached this far.
“We wouldn’t be in this position without him. We wouldn’t be in first place in the eliminations without him. We’re still gonna play for him. We’re gonna play for very one else. We’ll just play hard,” he said.
Ross was also pleased with the way the Beermen held their ground against the Elasto Painters and dodged the initial bullet.
“Those guys are warriors. No matter the task at hand, we play hard. We’re willing to take on any challenge and playing without an import, that’s a big challenge for us. But we’re up to the task. Everyone’s upbeat and we just wanna go all out. We did and luckily we made plays at the end and won the game,” he said. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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