MANILA, Philippines – The San Miguel Beermen's heartbreaking loss to Barangay Ginebra last Sunday can serve as a stepping stone for the team, after they got off to a slow start in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup.
This, according to point guard Chris Ross who put up a triple-double in San Miguel's 110-107 overtime loss to the defending champions.
"It was a good game. Both teams played well and they just made one more play than we did," said Ross, who finished with 11 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists in the defeat.
The loss dropped the Beermen to 1-3, with their other losses coming to NorthPort and TNT. Their lone win was against a Blackwater team that was playing without its import, Alex Stepheson, last week.
Their performance against Ginebra gave Ross reason to believe that the Beermen are finally rounding into form, however, after a grueling campaign in the PBA Philippine Cup that saw them beat Magnolia in a seven-game final series.
"It's still early in the conference, but I feel like we're shaking off that hangover a little bit, and we're starting to play a lot better," said Ross, who was a major part of SMB's run to a fifth straight All-Filipino crown.
"So this is a good game for us, even though we lost. We didn't come out on top, but it's a good stepping stone for us as far as playing well and getting everybody back healthy and back from suspensions, and having a full roster," he added.
The Beermen drew a 34-point outing from import Charles Rhodes before he fouled out in the overtime period, and five other players scored in double-digits including Alex Cabagnot who had 21 markers.
San Miguel was still playing without Terrence Romeo, and veteran forward Arwind Santos only saw five minutes of action. They also squandered a 15-point lead in the first half, but showed their mettle in the clutch to force overtime.
They couldn't get the job done in the extra period, however, wasting several opportunities. Cabagnot bricked a potential game-tying jumper, and Ross himself misfired on a triple that could have given them the lead in the closing seconds.
Ross thus shrugged off his triple-double effort, saying, "I like to win, man. I don't really care about stats. I like to win."
While their slow start to the conference is far from ideal, Ross also pointed out that they were coming off a tough stint in the All-Filipino, and immediately played teams who had already gotten their rhythm in the conference.
TNT, for instance, was already midway through its elimination round schedule when it played the Beermen.
"We're maybe five practices in," Ross pointed out.
"We're only human. We're not machines. It kind of takes a while to get back into the flow of things and to integrate a big piece into your team," he added.
But they took a step forward even with a loss to Ginebra, and Ross said the Beermen "should be able to start playing better" at that point. They remain very much in the hunt for a place in the quarterfinals, and Ross said that as long as they don't fall into the 7th or 8th seed, they should be good in the playoffs.
"If we can get into a (best-of-3) in the first round, I like our chances going forward," he said. "That's what we're playing for."
"I mean, obviously it's good to get one of the top two slots, but if you look at our record in past conferences, we haven't been Top 2 in a while. So like I said, as long as we can get into that series in that first round, then we like our chances," Ross said.
The Beermen will try to regain their winning ways on Friday, when they take on the Alaska Aces at the Cuneta Astrodome.
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