MANILA - Chris Ross and the San Miguel Beermen could not do much to stop TNT's Terrence Jones from dominating in Game 1 of their PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals series, but they vow not to back down against the explosive import.
Jones put up 41 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists and 3 blocks in steering the KaTropa to a comfortable 109-96 in Game 1 on Sunday, lifting TNT to a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.
The Beermen won't deny that Jones was a massive factor in the game, as it was the import who led TNT the crucial 18-0 run that allowed the KaTropa to pull away in the first quarter.
"Jones, he’s a good player," acknowledged SMB point guard Chris Ross, who was able to at least bother Jones in the second half.
"Ano, si Terrence Jones ano eh, magaling. Malaki ang naibibigay sa kanila neto -- assist, puntos, tsaka depensa, rebound," added Arwind Santos, who also marked Jones in some possessions.
Yet they are determined to find a way to at least limit Jones, especially after some tense encounters with the import during the game. Ross, in particular, got tangled up with Jones in the third period after the TNT import brought his elbow down on the SMB guard's nose while he was looking to make a move. The action caused Ross to crash onto the court.
Ross took exception to the motion, especially as he felt that Jones also deliberately stepped on his foot while he was down.
"Yeah, I felt like he purposely went after my nose. I know you see Mo Tautuaa wears a mask now, the same thing happened to him," said Ross, referring to the NorthPort big man who was also on the receiving end of a Jones elbow during the elimination round.
"He's done it to multiple people, to where he's literally going for people's noses. I'm not the first one, and Mo has a mask for it, and he broke his nose. I'm not sure if he had surgery, but I mean, it's something I guess that's what he does," he added.
Ross also felt that it was no accident that Jones stepped on his foot while he was trying to stand up.
"If I step on your toe right now, you're gonna go right off, right? There's just certain things that aren't basketball plays," said the San Miguel point guard.
"If we're gonna play basketball, we'll play basketball. If you wanna play dirty, we'll play dirty too. So we'll take note of that going into Game 2," Ross warned.
Santos, for his part, said they are ready to do what it takes to stop Jones, even if it means escalating the physicality in an already tense series.
"Magaling talaga eh. Siyempre ganoon talaga, pagka minsan, pagka sobrang galing, minsan gusto mo talagang pigilan. Minsan, pagka gusto mong pigilan, minsan gusto mong tirahin na eh," Santos admitted.
"Pero, ah, tingnan natin ng Game 2, baka umabot sa point na talagang minsan, tayo, ayaw nating napapahiya minsan dahil siyempre, championship na 'to, ayaw din naming matalo basta-basta," he added.
"Magkakaroon ulit ng chance na kung sino matatapat namin sa kanya, talagang gagawin namin lahat para ma-stop siya, kahit papaano."
Jones, for his part, has said he was ready for all of San Miguel's defensive antics, and appeared unbothered when Ross refused his help in getting up after the incident in the third quarter.
"I tried to help him up to let him know that that wasn't intentional, but he didn't want my help. It's the playoffs, I don't really care, so next game," he said.
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