Filipino-American guard Chris Ross was willing to do everything he can to help Gilas Pilipinas win and bring home the Asian Games gold medal.
At 38, Ross is teeming with basketball wisdom and experience, attributes that came in handy just before Gilas trooped to the floor one last time to face off with the Rondae Hollis-Jefferson-led Jordan squad for the 19th Asian Games men's basketball gold in Hangzhou, China.
“I told the guys last night, most of us have won championships in different levels, but winning the gold in the Asian Games will set us apart,” Ross said, in an interview with One Sports, shortly after Gilas beat Jordan, 70-60 to end the country's 61-year Asian Games gold medal drought.
“Coach Tim (Cone) said, he was the only one alive the last time when we won the gold. I told the guys just visualize this. It's a surreal feeling to win the gold. I told the guys last night visualize what we're going to do after. We're gonna celebrate with each other,” he added.
“Before the game, I told them to lock in on every possession. Don't took ahead, we didn't start to get happy and celebrate until about 10 seconds left.” That pep talk buoyed Gilas up so well the national squad got off to a quick 28-13 lead in the first half.
But the Jordanians didn't go down without a fight.
With Hollis-Jefferson on the firing end, Jordan came swinging back to forge a 31-31 standoff by halftime.
Still, Gilas didn't flinch despite Jordan's tough stand.
Armed with a defensive mentality, Gilas kept the pressure, limiting Hollis-Jefferson to just 8-of-29 shooting overall, as well as a 3-of-14 clip from three-point zone.
With their best offensive weapon struggling in the second half, the Jordanians couldn't break off against the Filipinos, who eventually came away with the Asian Games basketball championship.
“We're so ecstatic, but we want to show sportsmanship and shake their hands first before we celebrate,” said the nine-time PBA champion, who, just last may, played a big role in Gilas' gold-medal redemption in the Southeast Asian Games in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
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