Lassiter sinks winner for Beermen


MARCIO LASSITER was again at the right place at the right time and doing good this time as San Miguel Beer escaped with a 98-96 win over TNT Tropang Giga to even their best-of-seven semifinals series at 1-1 in the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.

Three days after missing a potential game-winning floater in Game One that led to TNT’s 89-88 win, Lassiter made sure he won’t miss this time around.

Lassiter picked up Arwind Santos’s missed tip in and then the winning from under the basket, beating the game clock by a hair.

“That’s what we call a sense of urgency,” San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria said when asked to describe Lassiter’s winning shot. “It’s also because of his experience and we’re lucky, he converted at the right time.”

“June Mar [Fajardo] was the first option and Terrence [Romeo] was our second,” Austria added.

Six-time Most Valuable Player Fajardo, who posted 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds, muffed a semi-hook shot and Santos tried to tip the ball in but nmissed.

The ball simply fell to Lassiter who immediately made the game-winning put back.

“This is the true character of SMB. We stayed together,” Romeo said. “We didn’t give up.”

San Miguel Beer rallied from a 61-80 deficit late in the third period with Romeo pouring in 15 of his game-high 26 points in the fourth quarter. He also had four assists.

After Romeo’s basket narrowed the gap to 92-93 with 1:23 left, Roger Pogoy was called for a foul with 23 seconds remaining, sending Lassiter to the foul line and made two shots that gave the lead to the Beermen.

But Troy Rosario drilled in a three-pointer in the last six seconds to forge a 96-all count and forced Austria to call a timeout and draw the game-clinching play.

“We’re down but we kept on fighting,” Austria said. “To tell you honestly, this is pure heart.”

Alex Cabagnot had 14 points and Santos finished with 11 points for the Beermen.

Pogoy led TNT with 21 points and six rebounds, while JP Erram added 20 points and 10 rebounds.

TNT’s super rookie Mikey Williams struggled on the floor with a 5-of-16 shooting  and finished with 12 points on top of five rebounds and seven assists.

Despite playing without veteran big man Kelly Williams (health and safety protocols), the Tropang Giga took control in early in the game.

But San Miguel Beer outscored TNT, 31-14, when it mattered most in the fourth quarter. The Beermen also beat the Tropang Giga off the bench, 42-26.

Game Three is set at 6 p.m. on Friday.

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