Lassiter delivers in clutch as Fajardo-less SMB survives Kia scare to near Top 2 spot

Marcio Lassiter saved the day for SMB. Dennis Acosta

By Ivan Saldajeno

LOS BAÑOS--With Junemar Fajardo doing national team duties, San Miguel found itself just a minute away from getting staggered by Kia in a battle of teams at opposing poles of the PBA Philippine Cup team standings.

Marcio Lassiter then took over.

Lassiter scored the last five points as the Beermen subdued the Picanto, 108-106, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Friday night.

SMB sizzled quickly, opening a lead as much as 26 points and dropping 91 points already by the end of the third quarter.

However, Kia unleashed a 35-point fourth quarter and took a 106-103 lead with 1:02 to go in the game.

Following a timeout, however, Lassiter dropped a booming triple to force a 106-all tie with 48 seconds left.

Chris Ross actually tried to give the Beermen the lead following a turnover on Reden Celda, but he missed the layup and Gabby Espinas failed to secure the ball following an offensive rebound.

Arwind Santos, however, gave them a window of opportunity after blocking Glenn Khobuntin with a second remaining.

Off a timeout, Ross found Lassiter for the game-winning layup at the buzzer as they moved further closer to the twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.

Santos finished with 27 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and one steal for SMB, which moved up to 8-2 with only Rain Or Shine to deal with in its elimination round assignments.

Chris Ross came close to his own double-double with 10 assists and nine points with three rebounds and two steals.

Lassiter added 22 points, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

Khobuntin came off the bench to finish with 15 points, one rebound, and five dimes for Kia, which finished its stint in the season-opening conference at 1-11.

Box Scores:

San Miguel 108-Santos 27, Lassiter 22, Pessumal 11, De Ocampo 10, Heruela 9, Ross 9, Espinas 8, Vigil 5, Ganuelas-Rosser 5, Mamaril 2, Agovida 0, Lanete 0, Semerad 0

Kia 106-Khobuntin 15, Corpuz 12, Gabriel 10, McCarthy 10, Yee 10, Cabrera 9, Celda 8, Camson 8, Tubid 7, Ababou 6, Jamon 5, Escoto 4, Lastimosa 2, Sara 0, Galanza 0

Quarterscores: 29-23, 61-41, 91-71, 108-106

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