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The San Miguel Beermen seem to bring out their best when they feel provoked, such as the case in Sunday’s third game of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals against TNT KaTropa that put them two victories shy of capturing the crown.

San Miguel had to deal with rough play, verbal exchanges and even a near fracas in the first half before displaying its old form to go up 2-1 in the best-of-seven series for the championship of the midseason conference.

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“It just kind of gets of juices going, like waking up a sleeping dog or something,” Ross said after the Beermen’s 109-97 victory at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Ross had plenty of tension to deal during the first two quarters that began when he was tripped by TNT’s Ryan Reyes, prompting him to voice his displeasure at his fellow Fil-American guard.
“I don’t think it was basketball play, and he said it was and that was that. Nothing more, nothing less,” he recalled.

Minutes later, Ross exchanged words from afar with a pair of TNT imports who are on standby – Mike Myers, the potential replacement for the big Joshua Smith should the latter’s foot injury worsen, and Michael Craig, who is expected to suit up for the KaTropa in next month’s Governors’ Cup.

Craig later got involved in a separate incident when he reportedly pushed a guard rail at halftime, hitting San Miguel governor Robert Non and a female official. It almost led to a fight between the American and Beermen assistant coach Boycie Zamar before they were pacified by cooler heads.

Craig, who stands at 6-foot-5 and once played in South Korea, later denied the accusation. Ross, however, was more triggered with his warning shots.

“The guy (Craig) told me he’s playing next conference, I said I’m not worried about the next conference, I’m worried about the game right now,” Ross said. “If that’s what he wants to do which is to talk then he’ll have his time to back it up next conference. I heard he’s a really good player, hope he is.”

The second half went trouble-free, but the earlier incidents seemed to lit a fire on the Beermen. Ross teamed up fellow Best Player of the Conference candidate Alex Cabagnot while Marcio Lassiter broke out of a slump to turn a tight contest into a blowout.

“We’re just trying to play basketball, and when they start doing things that we feel that aren’t basketball, we kind of turn it up a notch,” Ross stressed. “I hope we can get to that level where we can just play at that level from the beginning and that will be good for us, but as I mean as long as we got that extra level to go through, it’s always good.”

Added Arwind Santos, who in Game 2 was a victim of a Roger Pogoy low blow: “Ang maganda sa team namin pagkanagagalit.

Yun yung lagi naming ni-reremind sa isa’t-isa na okay lang magalit dahil ayaw lang namin matalo talaga.”