by Jonas Terrado
Game Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
7 p.m. – NLEX vs Magnolia
(NLEX leads series 1-0)
Marcio Lassiter scored a tip-in with 3.2 seconds left in overtime and defending champion San Miguel completed a stunning comeback to beat Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 104-102, last night for a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven semifinal series in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Lassiter followed up June Mar Fajardo’s missed layup for the winning basket as the Beermen escaped the jaws of defeat after being down by a high of 15 in regulation and four, 102-98, entering the final minute of the extension.
Ginebra’s Scottie Thompson lost the ball near midcourt and the Beermen celebrated their escape act that put them halfway from advancing to a fourth consecutive finals appearance in the PBA’s preeminent tournament.
Silent for much of the contest, Lassiter finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and four assists, complementing Fajardo’s 33-point, 19-rebound outing.
“Wala akong masabi sa kanila,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria. “Talagang they played with a lot of heart, maybe because they are used to this kind of situation.”
Austria was also thankful that Arwind Santos, who started the game missing six of seven shots, regained his shooting form just in the nick of time, sending the game into an extra five-minute period tied at 95-all after knocking down a right elbow three with 13.4 seconds left in the fourth.
San Miguel looked as if it was heading for defeat when Ginebra’s Joe Devance drained a right corner three off the 6-foot-10 Fajardo for that 102-98 lead. Lassiter kept the Beermen alive by scoring a tip-in followed by two foul shots with the Kings in penalty, 15.8 ticks remaining in the extension, to level the count for the final time.
Devance later turned into a goat when he failed to inbound the ball, resulting in a five-second violation that awarded possession back to San Miguel.
Lassiter took advantage of a double by Thompson and Japeth Aguilar and dropped the ball to Fajardo who found a bit of space in the paint. Fajardo, however, missed the layup, but Lassiter had the presence of mind to battle for the rebound, which led to the game-winner.
Santos finished with 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting while Chris Ross added 13 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals for the Beermen, who spoiled the career night of unheralded Ginebra center Prince Caperal.
Tasked to play a huge role after the second straight absence of Greg Slaughter in the series because of an injured ankle, Caperal had 26 points and eight rebounds but was rarely a factor during San Miguel’s stirring comeback.
Japeth Aguilar topscored with 28 points for Ginebra, which will try to prevent a 0-3 deficit tomorrow night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
SAN MIGUEL 104 – Fajardo 33, Lassiter 25, Ross 13, Cabagnot 13, Santos 11, Ganuelas-Rosser 7, Heruela 2, Pessumal 0, Espinas 0, De Ocampo 0.
GINEBRA 102 – Aguilar J. 28, Caperal 26, Devance 11, Thompson 10, Cruz 10, Tenorio 8, Mercado 7, Mariano 2.
Quarters: 25-30; 42-55; 70-73; 95-95 (Reg); 104-102 (OT).