San Miguel coach Austria salutes Santos, Lassiter despite ejections

MANILA, Philippines – The San Miguel Beermen endured playing without two of their best players en route to a 99-94 victory over the TNT KaTropa on Saturday, June 16.

San Miguel had to finish the game sans Marcio Lassiter and Arwind Santos, who were both ejected after figuring in a word war and a scuffle, respectively, and head coach Leo Austria was surprisingly pleased. 

"Salute ako sa kanila because they showed na they're out there to win games to the point na lagi silang makikipagrambulan doon for the team and even Arwind ano," said Austria, who once asked Chris Ross to keep his intense attitude to a 'certain limit.' 

(I salute them because they showed that they're out there to win games to the point that they will fight for the team, even Arwind.) 

Lassiter was gone before halftime and barely played 17 minutes following back-to-back heated exchanges with Terrence Romeo while Santos was tossed out midway through the 4th period after almost coming to blows with Tony Semerad. 

The sharpshooter, who finished with 7 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, was assessed two technical fouls for trash talking with Romeo, who was also thrown out of the game for incurring two technical fouls. 

Meanwhile, Santos, who added 7 points, 7 rebounds and two steals, was slapped a flagrant foul penalty 2 after pulling down Semerad to the floor off a rebound play and hitting the KaTropa's head with an elbow. 

In retaliation, Semerad, who also received a disqualifying foul, delivered a blow to Santos' head before they were separated by cooler heads. 

While losing Santos meant missing a clutch performer in the tightly-contested battle, his ejection worked wonders for San Miguel.

The game was tied at 83-all before the Santos-Semerad mini scuffle and both teams were awarded two free throws after the two cagers were thrown out. 

Unfortunately, Kelly Williams missed both of his freebies for TNT while Chris Ross secured his charities to give the Beermen a two-point lead – an advantage that stood until the final buzzer sounded.

"We're fortunate at that time dahil nag-miss 'yung kanilang free throws, sa amin, pumasok, and I think that's one of the turning points," said Austria.

(We're fortunate at that time because they missed their free throws and we made ours. I think that's one of the turning points.) 

With a 4-4 record, the Beermen need to win at least two of their last 3 games, which starts against the skidding NLEX Road Warriors. But Austria does not want his wards to rest on their laurels.

"We cannot relax against this team dahil they're out there to spoil, pwede silang maging KJ."

(We cannot relax relax against this team because they're out there to spoil. They can be somewhat of a killjoy)

San Miguel meets NLEX next Saturday, June 23, in Pangasinan.


Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.