PBA Finals: Lassiter hopes that even with inexperienced crew, San Miguel can still go boom
MANILA, Philippines—Sunday’s no-tomorrow duel for the PBA Philippine Cup won’t be the first for San Miguel sniper Marcio Lassiter. He has figured in three, in fact, throughout the club’s five-year reign in the centerpiece tournament.
But the seasoned veteran knows all too well that the clash against defending champion TNT, set at the fabled Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, will pose unique challenges.
He has two big reasons to believe so: The Beermen will be without Alex Cabagnot and Arwind Santos when the ball tips at 6 p.m.
“It’s going to be different because before, you can bank on chemistry,” he told the Inquirer shortly after San Miguel leveled the series with a decisive 114-96 victory last Friday night.
“That was the biggest thing. It’s like, it doesn’t matter what game was it. We just knew—boom! boom! boom!—where everyone is,” he added.
The Beermen are navigating this finalé not only without two of their former skippers but also with a handful of players who have yet to play in a pressure-packed, high-stakes contest like this one.
This has been the first championship series for spitfire guard CJ Perez. Sunday’s winner-take-all, meanwhile, will be the first time for franchise newcomers and now San Miguel’s key role players Simon Enciso, Rodney Brondial, Jericho Cruz, and Robbie Herndon.
And that’s where most of Lassiter’s worries stem. But it’s not like he has no clue how to approach it. He was just like these players years ago.
“Honestly, every game that I play, every time I train is to get back to this. I know things happen. Different lineups happen. but I just knew that I can control what I can do which is to always go hard, put in the training, put in the work, the extra shooting, just being prepared for this type of game,” Lassiter said.
“Coming into this is also like trying to teach them. I know these guys are going to be ready but this is more of like, an experience,” he went on.
The 6-foot-3 swingman believes that the only way to learn is going through it all.
“They need to be in these ‘experience games,’ these type of environments, so they could build their confidence from it,” Lassiter said.
“All we (June Mar Fajardo, Chris Ross, and other veterans in the team) can do is hopefully lead by example, hopefully, show them that they got to be aggressive,” he added.
“Because honestly, there’s only so much you could say. You just have to experience it, be in it. And that was how I was. I didn’t know what to expect when I came here. I just knew that I had to play each possession one by one, give it all one by one until good things could happen.”
The eight-time PBA champion, now 35, wrapped it up with a simple nugget of advice for this crew that looking to put the vaunted club back on top.
“(This) might be the best thing I could tell them: Play each possession by letting the game come to you,” he said.