Titles, not BPCs, fuel Chris Ross’ competitive drive

For a player who’s extremely active on social media, particularly his regular serving of Instagram Stories clips and Twitter Q&As, Chris Ross couldn’t care less about the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Best Player of the Conference award in the past few weeks.

In the lead-up to the Commissioner’s Cup finals, the talk of winning BPC has never even been brought up by the San Miguel Beermen to any team practice, dinner, or get-together. The only exception being the pre-Finals press conference two weeks ago, when media members asked Ross about potentially winning the award.

“We never talked about it,” Ross said. “The only time it was mentioned to us was the finals press conference and I thought it would be cool if me and Alex win the thing.”

Ross and backcourt partner Alex Cabagnot were tied in statistical points entering the Commissioner’s Cup championship series against TNT, and Ross, naturally, didn’t mind sharing the BPC with someone else.

Merely having been considered as the best player in the league for a conference means respect for Ross, who has been a darkhorse for most of his PBA career. Successfully taking it home doesn’t change his views of it. It’s still second in the heirarchy of his priorities as a basketball athlete.

“I’m not sure if it has happened in the history of the league where two guys are tied in statistical points but we thought that was pretty cool for both of us to win. But if one of us wins, we are happy for each other. That’s not we are playing for (anyway),” Ross added.

No, scoring 30+ points or being the face of the franchise isn’t and will never define Ross. Back when Ross was an inefficient shooter and an unproven individual in the eyes of many, it was his incredible motor, toughness, and willingness to succeed which kept him glued to the league.

Later, it was his incredible feel for the game. He facilitates. He directs and leads his team in the proper direction. He defers to others — his four fellow all-star starters — when necessitated. He is a peerless teammate who sees things on the court before even others anticipate it.

“Chris, he just has a really high IQ. That man can see everything on the floor. You don’t have to tell him much. When he is on the floor, he can see what the defense is doing, he just attacks, and he knows when to make the pass,” Lassiter said. “Passing is his greatest asset. Before, his weakness was shooting but he has covered that. He’s been the all-around player now. Glad to see the growth eversince he has been here.”

It’s that ability which has transformed Ross into one of the best system players in the league.

“He makes all of us look good,” Lassiter said. “He is so unselfish. He makes the extra passes. He makes us so comfortable and confident. He is a very selfless player and that’s just the way he has been playing. He is playing it the right way, team basketball, that’s his style and he is used to it, and it fits our system.”

Now, Ross has been rewarded for his stellar play. But ssked about how he feels being a finalist for the award, Ross didn’t even speak about himself — a true testament to his selflessness.

“It’s an honor to be considered,” Ross said a few hours before being awarded the BPC plaque. “But it is a testament to my teammates. Alex (Cabagnot) is right there with me. June Mar (Fajardo) is right there with me. Those guys, even Marcio (Lassiter) and Arwind (Santos) are top 10. Whenever you get an individual award, it’s a team thing. I give credit to my teammates and coaches.”

“We are just playing hard. We are going out there and competing. We don’t really play for stuff like that. We play to help our teammates. Whatever that entails, so be it,” Ross said.

Getting his teammates going fuels Ross. There’s just an inexplicable feeling of satisfaction whenever he sees everyone clicking. That’s who he is and that’s what the Beermen are excellent at: sacrifice.

IMG_0338-copy

Ross received his BPC plaque at center court before Game 4 tip-off on Wednesday, with the entire Beermen crew fittingly joining him. Ross pulled Cabagnot and insisted he share the award with him. But it didn’t sink in for Ross during that time that he won something. It probably won’t until the series ends in San Miguel’s favor.

“I am so happy for him. Alam naman natin where he came from and where he started. I am very proud, but that is not his goal eh. He wants to win the championship. That’s why he is so sad tonight,” Beermen head coach Leo Austria said after San Miguel dropped Game 4, 102-97, allowing TNT to tie the series at 2-2.

BPCs are nice; being called the best in the league is too, but Ross’ unquestionable competitiveness is driven by the only award that matters to him: the championship — and making his teammates win in the process too.

“That’s always our main goal. If everyone benefits from me, that’s good. Individual stuff are always the last thing for me,” Ross said. “If we help our team win and we are up for awards at the end of the year, it’s only a positive for us. From me to Alex to June Mar to Marcio to Arwind, I will tell you that our main goal is to win a championship.”