|Lassiter finished with a game-high 24 points, including five of SMB's 13 made triples, while adding six rebounds, five steals, two rebounds, and a block. Dennis Jerome Acosta/ Dugout Philippines|
By Ricky Manliguis
MANILA—San Miguel Beer came alive in the most crucial moment as it annihilated Magnolia Hotshots, 111-87, and take a 2-1 lead in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup finals at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City Sunday night.
Back from a one-week Holy Week respite, the three-time champs waxed hot in a blistering fourth quarter assault, outscoring the Pambansang Manok, 36-19, behind Marcio Lassiter and June Mar Fajardo to pull away for good and take command of the best-of-seven series.
From a slim 75-68 third quarter advantage, the Beermen fired 15 unanswered points capped by Brian Heruela's charities for a 92-71 cushion and never looked back since.
Lassiter finished with a game-high 24 points, including five of SMB's 13 made triples, while adding six rebounds, five steals, two rebounds, and a block. Fajardo banged in a double-double of 21 points and 17 boards before being rested the entire final canto.
Chris Ross and Arwind Santos both had 14 markers.
But it was the shock troopers Heruela and Gabby Espinas who made the difference in the ballgame. Heruela had 11 points in 22 minutes of action, while Espinas chipped in nine markers, two rebounds and the same number of assists in 19 minutes.
“I think yung one-week break worked in our favor, and we're able to recharge and to focus and recuperate from minor injuries, especially Marcio and Chris Ross who are suffering a lot of bangaan inside,”said winning coach Leo Austria.
He also pointed out the sterling performances of the SMB bench, specifically Heruela and Espinas, which held the fort in the final minutes of the fourth.
“The key here is we're able to match their (Magnolia) energy,” he added. “Lampas-lampas pa nga, that is because of our second unit. At the start of the fourth quarter, sila ang nag-trabaho that's why I opted to let them stay until the last few minutes."
Mark Barroca paced Magnolia with 22 points along with four rebounds, three steals, a steal and a block, even as Paul Lee had 15 and seven dimes before leaving the game with an apparent hand injury. Aldrech Ramos and PJ Simon were the other double-digit scorers with 12 and 10 respectively.
The Beermen will gun for a commanding 3-1 edge in Game 4 slated Wednesday also at the Big Dome.
San Miguel 111 — Lassiter 24, Fajardo 21, Ross 14, Santos 14, Heruela 11, Espinas 9, Cabagnot 5, Ganuelas-Rosser 5, Pessumal 4, Semerad 2, Vigil 2, Lanete 0, Mamaril 0
Magnolia 87 — Barroca 22, Lee 15, Ramos 12, Simon 10, Dela Rosa 6, Gamalinda 6, Jalalon 6, Sangalang 6, Brondial 0, Herndon 0, Mendoza 0, Pascual 0
Quarterscores: 29-22, 50-49, 75-68, 111-87