The San Miguel Beermen solidified their 2021 PBA Philippine Cup playoff spot after eliminating the gutsy Alaska Aces from contention with a thrilling 101-100 win at the DHVSU Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga on Wednesday, September 22.
Off a late Abu Tratter mid-range jumper that gave Alaska a 100-98 lead, Marcio Lassiter then got him back with a trademark corner three off a smart CJ Perez dish for the 101-100 go-ahead with just 3.8 ticks left.
Having no timeouts left due to a tough San Miguel inbound trap a few possessions earlier, Alaska failed to get a half-court shot off in time as time expired.
With the win, the former five-time reigning All-Filipino titlists ended the elimination round with a 7-4 record, good enough for the fourth seed.
They will either face Rain or Shine (6-5) or NorthPort (5-5) depending on the Batang Pier’s fate against Alaska on Thursday, September 23, 4:35 pm.
On the other hand, the Aces will go home empty-handed with a 3-7 record. Although a four-way tie at 4-7 for the eighth seed is still possible, Alaska owns the worst quotient among Phoenix, Terrafirma, and defending champion Barangay Ginebra.
Perez led yet another balanced Beermen attack with 20 points off the bench while June Mar Fajardo and Chris Ross each chipped in 17 markers on 7 made shots apiece.
“We wanted to have today’s win because it’s better to get into the quarterfinals with momentum by winning against Alaska,” said head coach Leo Austria in the postgame presser.
“We got a bit lucky with our last play designed for the big man, but it happens that someone will be open if ever they collapse, and that happened. There were extra passes coming from those players, so they stuck to the game plan.”
Mo Tautuaa continued his efficient bench spark run with 15 points in 25 minutes while Lassiter added 13 markers on a 2-of-4 clip from three.
Tratter went down swinging with a season-high 24 points on a 9-of-14 clip to go with 9 rebounds, while Rodney Brondial churned out a 17-marker, 12-board double-double on 7-of-14 shooting.
San Miguel 101 – Perez 20, Ross 17, Fajardo 17, Tautuaa 15, Lassiter 13, Pessumal 9, Santos 7, Zamar 3, Gamalinda 0.
Alaska 100 – Tratter 24, Brondial 17, Herndon 15, Casio 11, Digregorio 9, Teng 9, Ahanmisi 5, Adamos 3, Banal 3, Ilagan 2, Stockton 2.
Quarters: 33-19, 47-43, 77-75, 101-100.