MANILA, Philippines – Chris Ross put himself in elite company after catching fire from long distance to help San Miguel move on the verge of reaching the finals.
Ross drained a career-high 10 three-pointers as San Miguel demolished Rain or Shine, 117-105, for a commanding 2-0 lead in their best-of-five semifinals series in the PBA Commissioner's Cup on Monday, July 29.
Mostly known for his work on the less glamorous end of the floor, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year flaunted his vastly improved outside game to wound up with a career-high 34 points on top of 8 assists and 3 steals.
He became only the fifth player in PBA history to knock down at least 10 triples, joining teammate Marcio Lassiter, TNT guard Roger Pogoy, and icons Allan Caidic and Kenneth Duremdes.
"It's just like something just takes over your body. It was a happy feeling. There are times where we just feel like we throw it in and everything is just going in," Ross told reporters after the game.
"It's just one of those feelings that when you get into the zone that everything's going to go right for you."
His torrid shooting was extremely timely as San Miguel trailed by as much as 29 before Ross, who missed his first 4 three-point attempts, found his touch from downtown.
Ross buried 3 triples in a scintillating 21-0 run that shaved their deficit to just 3 points at halftime, 49-52, and knocked 7 treys in their dominant second-half showing that saw San Miguel bury Rain or Shine by as large as 23 points.
With San Miguel missing the services of Lassiter – who is sidelined due to a left knee injury – Ross had to step up in his absence.
"Actually on my way to the gym, I was texting with Marcio, he was just telling me, 'Bruh, just shoot the ball, man. Trust your work and just shoot the ball,'" Ross said.
"When you get a text like that from one of the best shooters ever in the history of the league, then you do what he says. So I went out there and just shot the ball."
While San Miguel has won back-to-back games against Rain or Shine despite being down by double digits – erasing a 13-point deficit in its 111-105 Game 1 win – Ross warned they should avoid the trend.
"We can't have the habit of being down 30 points and expecting to win – especially in the playoffs," he said.
"Hopefully we could fix that going into the next game, 'cause two games in, we had two bad starts, two slow starts. Hopefully we could fix that and not make it so hard for ourselves."
San Miguel will go for the sweep when it meets Rain or Shine in Game 3 at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, July 31. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.