PBA Philippine Cup

Full endgame trust in Perez, Lassiter as San Miguel knots PBA finals

Delfin Dioquino

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Full endgame trust in Perez, Lassiter as San Miguel knots PBA finals

PREDATOR. CJ Perez in action for the San Miguel Beermen in the 2024 PBA Philippine Cup.

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CJ Perez and Marcio Lassiter save the day for San Miguel as the defending champions stun Meralco in the dying seconds to tie the PBA Philippine Cup finals at 1-1

MANILA, Philippines – Having two of the most clutch players in the PBA is definitely a luxury San Miguel enjoys.

CJ Perez and Marcio Lassiter saved the day for the Beermen as the defending champions stunned Meralco in a nail-biting 95-94 win that tied the PBA Philippine Cup finals at 1-1 at the Araneta Coliseum on Friday, June 7.

Perez and Lassiter each drained a crucial three-pointer inside the final 25 seconds to help San Miguel avoid a precarious 0-2 deficit in the best-of-seven series.

“Marcio has proven himself, CJ has proven himself. Now, they just proved themselves again that they’re clutch players, that they can shoot the three when it matters the most,” said Beermen head coach Jorge Gallent.

The Bolts were on their way to going up 2-0 in the series after seizing a 93-89 lead off a Chris Banchero triple with 25 seconds left only to fizzle out.

Off a timeout, Perez sank his fifth and final trey of the game to cut their deficit to 92-93 before Lassiter knocked down the go-ahead three-pointer for the final tally as San Miguel capitalized on Banchero splitting his free throws.

Banchero still got a crack at the potential game-winner but missed his layup.

“When we need baskets, we’re not hesitant to go to [CJ] and Marcio,” said Gallent. “We’re not hesitant to let them shoot the ball, especially coming crunch time.”

Perez finished with a playoff career-high 34 points on top of 5 steals, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds as he took matters into his own hands, attempting a season-high 28 field goals.

Despite being on attack mode from start to finish, Perez still shot a respectable 42% from the field and 45% from beyond the arc.

“As I always say, it will not be perfect. If I miss, I’ll shoot again. People say I’m a ball hog. But I’m really a ball hog,” said Perez in Filipino. “I’m just trying to help my team. Every game, I give my 110 percent.”

But when the Beermen needed him to defer to his teammates, Perez did so selflessly as he assisted Lassiter for the shot that allowed San Miguel to beat Meralco for the first time this conference.

June Mar Fajardo submitted 17 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks, while Don Trollano and Mo Tautuaa added 12 and 10 points, respectively, in the victory.

Cliff Hodge carried the scoring load for the Bolts with a season-high 25 points, but his performance went down the drain as Meralco continued its trend of losing Game 2 in a best-of-seven series after winning Game 1.

Banchero tallied 16 points and 4 assists, while Chris Newsome posted 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in the losing effort.

The Scores

San Miguel 95 – Perez 34, Fajardo 17, Trollano 12, Tautuaa 10, Cruz 7, Lassiter 6, Ross 5, Brondial 2, Teng 2, Enciso 0

Meralco 94 – Hodge 25, Banchero 16, Newsome 14, Quinto 9, Maliksi 8, Rios 6, Bates 6, Torres 5, Caram 3, Pascual 2, Almazan 0, Jose 0.

Quarters: 21-22, 49-48, 69-73, 95-94.

– Rappler.com

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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.