MANILA, Philippines -- Chris Ross was the only Gilas Pilipinas player not to register a point in the team's 110-58 blowout of Singapore to open the 30th Southeast Asian Games, but that didn't matter to the San Miguel Beer veteran.
Defense has always been Ross' calling card, and he showed this once again on Wednesday as he set the tone for the Philippines in the lopsided win. Right from the opening tip, Ross marked Singapore's star guard, Wong Wei Long, and refused to let him have a moment of peace the entire game.
"What I'm most proud of about is the first play of the game," Gilas coach Tim Cone later said. "When Chris Ross blocked the shot of Long. He's their star player, and right off the bat, we sent the message that we're gonna play defense against them."
With Ross as his primary defender, Wong struggled in his 18 minutes of action. The two-time ASEAN Basketball League MVP was limited to just 6 points on 2-of-8 shooting, and had just one assist.
Gilas, as a team, limited Singapore to just 32.4% shooting, including just 6-of-26 from behind the arc. Singapore also committed 12 turnovers in the game, which Gilas turned into 14 points.
Ross missed his lone shot of the game -- a 3-pointer -- but dished out 10 assists along with a steal and a blocked shot.
It was an impressive national team debut for Ross, and it came despite him dealing with nerves in the moments leading up to the game.
"I was nervous. I was nervous coming to the gym, I was nervous going to the locker room, seeing my jersey in the locker, I was nervous," admitted Ross, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year in the PBA.
"And then, coming out to a loud cheer from the great fans that watched us today, I was still nervous."
Once the game started, however, Ross got down to business, and showed no let up in the 20 minutes that he spent on the floor.
With the first-game jitters out of the way, Ross said he expects to play even better in the Philippines' upcoming games.
"We just have to be the best versions of ourselves, not just for us but for the whole country," said Ross.
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