Ross, Cabagnot vow BPC race won’t get in the way of SMB title pursuit

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Alex Cabagnot (5) and Chris Ross (6) are tied in statistical points at the end of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals. Richard Esguerra, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines – For San Miguel guards Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross, their focus remains firmly on their pursuit of the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup title even after it was revealed that they are in the running for the conference’s top individual honor.

It was revealed Monday morning that Cabagnot and Ross are neck-and-neck for the Best Player in the Conference trophy, with both guards finishing the semifinals with 34.125 statistical points.

Cabagnot led the race at the end of the eliminations, and maintained his standing, thanks to averages of 15.13 points, 6.56 rebounds, and 5.06 assists per game.

Ross, meanwhile, was in eighth place at the end of the elimination round, but zoomed to tie Cabagnot at the top due to his superb performances in the quarterfinal and semifinal. The defensive-minded guard is currently averaging 13.19 points, 5.19 rebounds, 8.06 assists, and 2.94 assists per game.

“It’s cool,” Ross said of his placing in the BPC race. “But the main goal is to win a championship. Like what everyone says – when you win, all the individual stuff comes.”

Cabagnot was in full agreement, especially as they are determined to win the Commissioner’s Cup – the lone trophy that they have yet to win since Leo Austria took over as head coach.

“Championship talaga muna,” Cabagnot stressed. “We’re just going to try and do our best, so we could end our drought in the second conference. I think we started this conference with that thought, and I’m glad we’re in this position – to control our destiny.”

Both Cabagnot and Ross were crucial in SMB’s run-up to the Commissioner’s Cup Finals, where they will play the TNT KaTropa in a best-of-7 series that starts on Wednesday.

The two guards made it clear that the BPC race is a far second in their list of priorities, and that it will not be a distraction in their pursuit of the title in the Commissioner’s Cup.

“Definitely not,” Cabagnot said emphatically. “Individual honors are just going to come… Whatever happens, I’ll be happy. Pero the ultimate goal talaga is the championship.”

“We’re going out there winning a championship,” added Ross. “That’s the main goal. When you win a championship, everyone’s happy.”

Indeed, Ross noted that their BPC ranking is merely a testament to how good San Miguel is as a team. Though he and Cabagnot are tied for first place, June Mar Fajardo is a close third, Marcio Lassiter is in eighth place, and Arwind Santos is at No. 15.

“It’s just a testament to our team and the hard work we put in, the trust we have with one another,” he said. “But like I said, championship first, it’s the main goal, and all the other stuff is secondary.”

If he will have his way, he and Cabagnot can simply share the BPC trophy.

“If it’s possible, we should get co-(BPC),” Ross said. “I don’t know if there’s ever been two teammates that have been tied in statistical points at No. 1. But it would be cool if we get co-BPC. I’ll be cool with that.”

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