MANILA, Philippines -- The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters made sure that they would not be torched by Chris Ross for two consecutive games, as they put the clamps on the San Miguel point guard in Game 3 of their semis series in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup.
Ross had been unstoppable in Game 2 last Monday, making 10 three-pointers en route to a career-best 34-point night. His hot shooting from beyond the arc helped SMB recover from a 29-point deficit and claim a 117-105 triumph.
Rain or Shine refused to let him have an encore. Ross only had six points in Game 3, going 2-of-9 from the field. He did have six rebounds and seven assists, but the Elasto Painters finally notched a breakthrough win, 112-104.
"Hindi na namin hinayaan na maka-shoot pa ng maka-shoot si Chris Ross kasi deadly na siya eh, and then nakuha niya na 'yung rhythm niya, so mahirap na," said Rain or Shine guard Rey Nambatac.
With Ross shackled, it was SMB import Chris McCullough who did the heavy lifting with 51 points. But the Elasto Painters were willing to live with his explosive performance, as they limited Ross as well as June Mar Fajardo (8 points).
Ross' two field goals were still crucial, as they were three-pointers that helped San Miguel stay ahead in the fourth period. But the Elasto Painters prevented him from getting a shot off in crunch time, while Nambatac, Gabe Norwood, and Beau Belga all nailed clutch three-pointers.
"I didn't get any open looks," said Ross after the game. "They changed their game plan, and I didn't get any open looks, so ... yeah."
For Ross, his low-scoring output was not the only factor in their defeat.
"Calls didn't go our way, they made a couple of shots, and that was it," said the guard.
He noted that Rain or Shine tried to let McCullough beat them by himself, similar to how Ginebra played TNT import Terrence Jones the day before.
"To Chris' credit, he went and got it, but we just... Some things just didn't go our way at the end of the game," he added.
More than anything, the Beermen need to arrest their habit of falling behind early, only to make a comeback. It worked for them in the first two games of the series, and in Game 3 they also erased an 18-point deficit. They could not complete the victory, however, as Rain or Shine proved to be the better team down the stretch.
"It's hard, man, it's hard to battle back. You use so much energy fighting back, and then you kinda run out of gas at the end of the game," said Ross.
"So hopefully we can fix that going into Game 4 and give ourselves a better chance to be fresh at the end of the game," he added.
San Miguel still has a 2-1 lead in their best-of-5 semis series, and can clinch a ticket to the finals with a win in Friday's Game 4.
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