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PBA: SMB sluggish, but found ways to win – Ross

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The way San Miguel Beer debuted in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup couldn’t make San Miguel Beer point guard Chris Ross any happier.

In his eyes, they did it even when they weren’t in their best form.

“We were sluggish, kind of like last conference (first game), we didn’t start well,” Ross said after SMB defeated Meralco, 99-92, to start their campaign in the second conference.

“But we found ways to win. So it feels good to get a win when you’re not playing your best. We didn’t really play well,” added Ross.

Ross, the PBA Press Corps Finals MVP in the last Philippine Cup, pointed to the team’s slow start when they trailed 46-35 at the break as import Charles Rhodes struggled with foul trouble.

San Miguel fought back, however, behind reigning three-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos and Rhodes as the Beermen tied the score at 64 going to the fourth quarter.

Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter then hit one huge basket after another down the stretch to hand the Bolts their first defeat after a perfect 4-0 start.

Ross said the way they closed the game would help them later in the playoff stage, where they hope to make it to the finals anew for a shot at back-to-back titles.

“In the playoffs, you have to find ways to win when you’re not playing your best, and today was one of those days,” Ross said.

“We switched things up defensively, and we’re able to adjust together with our import. Coach (Leo Austria) was able to find as well the lineup that worked for us when we battled back.”

“It’s all about feeling out process for us in the first few games, and hopefully we figure it out quicker than we need to because it’s a short conference and we want to get wins early,” added Ross.

Santos said what helped them get the ‘W’ was their chemistry, even though they have a new import in Rhodes, who finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds with two blocked shots.

“Ito talaga yung pinagma-malaki ko, yung magandang samahan namin, yung winning attitude and sakripisyo ng bawat isang player lalo ngayon alam nating may import and kailangan mag-adjust,” said Santos.

“Maganda naman ang attitude, mabait, maganda makisama, sana hanggang dulo maka-sama namin sya. Tingin ko naman good fit siya para sa amin,” added Santos, who had to give up his starting spot to Rhodes as he came off the bench to added 12 points and six rebounds.

Fajardo led San Miguel with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Cabagnot contributed 23 points and Lassiter had 16 points as the two accounted for the team’s five of seven three-point shots.