Chris Ross’s meteoric rise in this epic San Miguel Beer title conquest came at a time when his best buddy, Sol Mercado of Barangay Ginebra, lobbied for him on Twitter to get more run in the series.
In Games 1 to 3, Ross played averaged 13.3 minutes of playing time. His playing time tripled starting Game 4, averaging 39 minutes until Game 7.
“That’s my guy, that’s my brother. We got each other’s back. He knows his basketball. He’s not the one to shy away from voicing out his opinion and I love him for that,” Ross said, referring to Mercado.
“I’m glad that I was able to prove him right.”
Ross was only averaging 3.7 points, 2.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and no steals prior to Game 4. With increased playing time, his numbers also spiked.
He normed 14.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 2.5 steals in the final 4 games of the championship round – all resulting in victories for the Beermen.
“I just want to thank coach Leo (Austria) for the opportunity to be out there. The first three games, I wasn’t playing heavy minutes but from Game 4 on, I was playing really, really heavy minutes. If I’m out there, I believed I can really affect the game,” said Ross.
He impacted the game more than his numbers suggested, as his defensive tenacity and ability to break the Aces’ dreaded pressure defense proving to be game-changers.
For Ross to stand out in a team that has 2 MVPs in June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos and clutch shooters in Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot, speaks volume of how big his heart is.
But sharing the adulation to all his teammates was a testament of his great character.
“All my teammates will be remembered. It’s not just me. I want every single player in this team to be remembered when they mention Game 7, the comeback from 0-3. I couldn’t do it alone. June Mar, Marcio, Arwind and Alex couldn’t do it alone,” Ross said.
“We did it together. That’s what made it beautiful.”