SMB survives KIA scare
Marcio Lassiter rescued San Miguel Beer from what coach Leo Austria described as a disaster, knocking in a layup with 1.8 seconds remaining as the defending champion Beermen escaped with a thrilling 108-106 victory over KIA Picanto Friday night in the PBA Philippine Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen nearly wasted a 26-point lead in the second half before Lassiter bailed them out with five points in the final minute that helped San Miguel secure an eighth win in 10 games and a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
“It could have been a disaster for us,” said Austria, who missed June Mar Fajardo and Alex Cabagnot. “It was not a good sign for us going into the playoffs, but fortunately we got the win and the incentive.”
Lassiter finished with 22 points, including a triple with 47 seconds remaining that tied the game at 106. Getting a bounce pass from Chris Ross off the sideline inbound, Lassiter banked in from just under the basket to save the Beermen’s blushes.
“It’s good to have guys like Marcio and Chris who know how to play together,” added Austria, whose team led 89-63 late in the third period.
The Picanto seemed poised for an upset when former San Miguel guard Rashawn McCarthy gave them a 104-103 lead. Glenn Khobuntin attacked the paint to extend the lead to 106-103 with 62 seconds left.
Later, Vic Manuel and JV Casio sparkled in crunchtime as Alaska dealt a huge blow to Rain or Shine’s bid for a twice-to-beat bonus by hammering out a thrilling 99-95 victory.
Rain or Shine needs to sweep its remaining games against San Miguel and Barangay Ginebra to stay in the hunt for the remaining quarterfinal bonus.
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