|The "Pinoy Saltbae" goes clutch. Rick Dela Cruz|
By Ivan Saldajeno
BINAN--Just when everyone thought Barangay Ginebra will be off to a smooth sailing to tie its PBA Philippine Cup semifinals against the San Miguel Beermen, the latter showed why they are the defending champs.
San Miguel completed a rally from 15 points down to turn back Ginebra in overtime, 104-102, in Game 2 of their series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Sunday night.
Marcio Lassiter stunned the venue when his putback with 3.2 seconds left put the Beermen up for good as they took a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven clash with the Barangay.
Ginebra looked solid for most of the first half, eventually opening a 53-38 lead with less than three minutes left in the half.
The team thought it would retain control of the game by the third quarter until SMB rallied later in the quarter to cut the lead down to just three, setting up a wild finish ahead.
The Barangay appeared to have reestablished control of the game in the fourth quarter, maintaining the lead for most of the period.
But the Beermen ended the period on a 13-4 run capped by the equalizing putback from Arwind Santos with 11 seconds left in regulation to force overtime at 95-all.
Joe Devance actually had a chance to win it for Ginebra in regulation only that he missed a potential game-winning layup just before the buzzer sounded.
The team thought it already finished off SMB after taking a 102-98 lead with 1:02 to go, but it was all Lassiter from thereon, starting with a quick layup on the next play that cut the lead down to two 102-100.
His teammates then forced Scottie Thompson to a tough three-pointer that he muffed, while he forced a 102-all tie with two free throws with 15 seconds remaining.
The Beermen's defense worked wonders again when they forced Devance to a five-second inbounding infraction, giving them the ball back.
Lassiter opted for a pick-and-roll play with Junemar Fajardo which came close to fruition as the latter came close to the basket only that he missed the lay-in.
But Lassiter saved their cause with a tip-in for tht eventual winner.
Thompson tried to steal the win for the Barangay, but he lost the ball in the end.
Lassiter had 25 points to backstop Fajardo, who finished with 33 for SMB.
Fajardo actually had a double-double as he grabbed 19 rebounds as well even as Santos had his own double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Ginebra's loss spoiled Prince Caperal's breakout game.
Caperal finished with a career-high 26 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and one block.
Japeth Aguilar led the team with 28 markers, seven boards, five dimes, two swats, and one steal.
San Miguel 104-Fajardo 33, Lassiter 25, Cabagnot 13, Ross 13, Santos 11, Ganuelas-Rosser 7, Heruela 2, Pessumal 0, De Ocampo 0, Espinas 0
Ginebra 102-Aguilar 28, Caperal 26, Devance 11, Thompson 10, Cruz 10, Tenorio 8, Mercado 7, Mariano 2.
Quarterscores: 25-30, 42-55, 70-73, 95-95, 104-102
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