No-quit Beermen strike back

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
No-quit Beermen strike back
The San Miguel Beermen celebrate after Marcio Lassiter made the winning basket in the dying seconds of their game against the TNT Tropang Giga.
PBA image

Hotshots repeat vs Bolts

MANILA, Philippines — Marcio Lassiter delivered the winning basket as San Miguel Beer stole Game 2 from TNT, 98-96, and leveled their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series at 1-1 yesterday in Bacolor, Pampanga.

Lassiter, who missed the potential winner in the Beermen’s 88-89 opening loss last Sunday, converted his buzzer-beating undergoal stab this time to save SMB from falling into a 0-2 hole in the best-of-seven series.

Lassiter’s clutch putback off Arwind Santos’ miss completed San Miguel’s massive fightback from a 19-point deficit anchored on Terrence Romeo’s fourth-quarter storm.

Romeo rifled in 15 of his 26 in the final canto, allowing SMB to turn things around with a 31-14 exchange. June Mar Fajardo also had a big game with 22 markers and 10 boards.

“Hindi ko matatawaran ang puso ng mga players. We’re down by 19 but we kept on fighting,” said a relieved SMB coach Leo Austria, whose squad played catch-up all throughout.

“Pure heart talaga ito and determination ng mga players, especially si Terrence. Nagwala siya sa loob dahil nandun yung focus niya to win the game. And that’s what I like about my players. In crucial situations lumalabas yan, maybe because of experience,” he said.

The Tropang Giga were still ahead, 93-86, before the Beermen made a big run.

Lassiter finally put SMB in front, 94-93, on two free throws off a foul by RR Pogoy then Chris Ross stretched it to three with his own freebies off Poy Erram, 10.6 seconds left.

Troy Rosario tied it with a booming triple, leaving SMB with 6.4 ticks to plot a final offensive.

The Beermen sent the ball to Fajardo, who bungled his shot, then Santos tried in vain to tip it in before Lassiter cleaned it up.

Later, Magnolia roared to a 2-0 lead against Meralco after hammering out a 92-78 triumph.

Paul Lee sizzled for 28 big points while Ian Sangalang and Calvin Abueva each posted double-double numbers as the Hotshots repeated their 88-79 romp in Sunday’s opener and stayed in control of the race-to-four affair.

“It’s a team effort. I’m very proud of the players because of commitment nila sa depensa and yung effort nila,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, whose team pounced on the early exits of Raymond Almazan (ankle injury) and Cliff Hodge (ejection) to pull away in the second half.

Lee provided the spark as Magnolia wiped out an early 12-point deficit and later joined forces with Abueva and Sangalang in a 9-0 blast bridging the third and fourth periods that allowed the Hotshots to rip the game apart, 69-58.

Sangalang scored 16 and grabbed 10 boards while Abueva had 11-11 to backstop Lee.

Chris Newsome paced the Bolts with 18.

“I’m happy for Marcio dahil na-redeem niya sarili niya. Pero ma-miss niya o hindi, that’s okay for me. We’re not lucky in Game 1 but today, it’s for Marcio, na-redeem niya ang sarili on his last shot,” said Austria of the Fil-Am gunner, who made four of his seven points in the dying seconds.

Pogoy, with 21 points, and Erram, with 20 points and 10 rebounds, paced the TNT scorers.

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