Upset Avoided: Lassiter Saves San Miguel from Kia
(Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
Kia erases a 26-point deficit only to lose it at the end
If you've seen Marcio Lassiter's face in the photo above, you're probably wondering why he's wearing a face like that when in fact, the San Miguel Beermen were playing against the Kia Picanto- the worst team in the PBA. Well, there's a reason for the face as it would be the face of the Beermen during the latter stretch of the fourth quarter.
The Beermen went up as high as 26 points but to everyone's surprise, the Picanto just came back from it and even had a chance to force an overtime if not to Marcio Lassiter who drained the game-winning shot with 1 second left in the game to give the Beermen a 108-106 victory over the hard-fighting Kia Picanto. If you're Kia, you would still be very proud because not every team in the league can give the Beermen a scare like that. Or, the fact that June Mar Fajardo wasn't around contributed to the Beermen's uncharacteristic meltdown.
So how did the Beermen survive Kia without their star center who's preparing for a crucial match-up between Gilas Pilipinas and Japan which is set to happen this Sunday?
49 Points from Arwind Santos and Marcio Lassiter
If anything, the Beermen still have 3 members from the league's best starting unit and two of them came up big time in a game when June Mar Fajardo wasn't hustling down low. Arwind Santos led the way with 27 points and 12 rebounds in what arguably was his best performance this season. Marcio Lassiter scored 22 points to compliment Santos' performance. In fact, Lassiter scored his final 5 points in the final 47 seconds of the game so he's definitely the guy SMB should thank for. Chris Ross, on the other hand, had 9 points and 10 assists- the last dime led to Lassiter's game-winner.
Three-Point Shooting Helped SMB
Without June Mar Fajardo who can almost pulverize opponents in the shaded area, the Beermen struggled with their shot as they shot 42% from the field including 46% from within the 2-point area. Fortunately, the Beermen were saved by their 3-point shooting as they went 14 for 37 from downtown.In fact, if not to Marcio Lassiter's trey which tied the score at 106 apiece, the end result could have been worse for San Miguel. Lassiter shot 5 for 13 from the three-point line while Arwind Santos shot 3 for 8 from outside. It wasn't the usual percentage that San Miguel gets from deep but their 37% 3-point shooting against Kia enabled them to seal one of the top 2 seats in the playoffs along with the twice-to-beat advantage that comes with it.
June Mar Fajardo wasn't around and so was Alex Cabagnot. And yet the Beermen won. That says something about the amount of talent that San Miguel has. And of course, a little luck.The Beermen are now assured of a top 2 finish even if they lose their final game against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. But if you want to keep the momentum going into the quarterfinals, you wouldn't relax just because it's almost a no-bearing game.
SAN MIGUEL - 108
Santos 27, Lassiter 22, Pessumal 11, De Ocampo 10, Heruela 9, Ross 9, Espinas 8, Vigil 5, Ganuelas-Rosser 5, Mamaril 2, Agovida 0, Lanete 0, Semerad 0
KIA - 106
Khobuntin 15, Corpuz 12, Gabriel 10, McCarthy 10, Yee 10, Cabrera 9, Celda 8, Camson 8, Tubid 7, Ababou 6, Jamon 5, Escoto 4, Lastimosa 2, Sara 0, Galanza 0
Quarter scores: 29-23, 61-41, 91-71, 108-106.