MANILA, Philippines – San Miguel's Chris Ross and Charles Rhodes were all smiles ahead of Game 4 of the 2017 PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals as they received the conference's highest individual honors.
For the first time in his career, Ross was named the Best Player of the Conference, edging teammates Alex Cabagnot and June Mar Fajardo.
Meanwhile, Rhodes won Best Import honors over Star's Ricardo Ratliffe and TNT's Joshua Smith.
But while the night started on a high note for San Miguel, it finished poorly as the Beermen lost to the TNT KaTropa, 97-102, squandering a chance to seize a commanding 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven Finals series.
What should have been a night to remember quickly turned sour for both Rhodes and Ross. The import had respectable numbers – 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting, eight rebounds – but was thrown out of the game with a minute left after incurring a second technical foul.
Meanwhile, Ross struggled in 39 minutes of action, tallying only eight points, five rebounds, and four assists while committing four turnovers.
To make matters worse, he was unable to put the clamps on Jayson Castro in the fourth quarter, and "The Blur" wound up leading TNT to the win.
"That's not a good game for us," Rhodes said frankly after their defeat.
"It was disappointing that [June Mar Fajardo] got in foul trouble. We both got in foul trouble," he added. "We just gotta look and see what we did wrong… This loss is probably our worst loss this year. It really hurts. This one really hurts."
Ross also took a measure of the blame for the defeat. "It starts with me," he said. "I didn't play well enough today for us to win, and I feel like I let my team down."
The defensive-minded point guard said that more than frustration, he feels personally disappointed at losing the chance to go up 3-1 in the series.
"We didn't play with a sense of urgency of trying to put them down 3-1. That's why they won. It started with me – I wasn't good enough," he said.
Given the loss, neither Ross nor Rhodes were in the mood to discuss their individual achievements.
"I don't really care about it," said Ross. "I want to win a championship. All the other stuff is secondary. The reason I'm playing the game is to win a championship."
Both players are now promising to perform to their usual standards in Game 5, which is set on Friday at the Araneta Coliseum.
"We just gotta go back and look at the film, see what our mistakes were, and try to learn from it," said Rhodes.
"It's a team sport, and we just gotta go back and look at what we did wrong. Everybody made mistakes – everybody," he stressed.
"I'll be better next game," Ross vowed. "We just have to play better. As one of the leaders, it starts with me. We'll see. We'll be ready on Friday."
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