|Marcio Lassiter saved the day for the Beermen just in time. PBA Images|
MANILA--Marcio Lassiter delivered in the endgame as San Miguel came out on top against TNT, 98-96, in Game 2 in the PBA Philippine Cup semis on Wednesday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Lassiter picked up the ball after Arwind Santos saved the play and made a shot in the paint just as time expired to win the game for the Beermen.
Despite SMB quickly going to June Mar Fajardo in the paint, TNT found a way to escape a close game and opened an 8-point lead, 31-23, after the first quarter.
TNT made a strong statement at the start of the second period by opening a double-digit lead, but halfway through the second, SMB crawled their way back into the game and got to within three, 41-44.
The Tropang Giga got their groove back just in time to up their lead to seven, 53-46, at halftime.
They then waxed hot to start the third period as they brought their lead back to double digits, 80-61, before settling for an 82-67 cushion to end the quarter.
However, Terrence Romeo almost singlehandedly brought SMB back to the game, eventually trimming the lead down to one, 93-92.
Jayson Castro missed a big chance to keep TNT afloat when he blew a layup with under 30 seconds left, giving SMB a big opportunity.
RR Pogoy fouled Lassiter during the ensuing inbound play, and Lassiter took care of both his free throws to put the Beermen ahead, 94-93.
Poy Erram had a chance to give the Tropang Giga the lead again, but he missed a corner three, and Chris Ross got fouled in the next play and made two free throws to up the Beermen's lead back to three, 96-93.
Troy Rosario tied the game for TNT at 96-all after draining a three-pointer, but Lassiter's heroics, which actually saved SMB's last push after putting back a June Mar Fajardo miss, squashed TNT's hopes.
Romeo, who was held to just two points in the first quarter and zero in the second, erupted for 24 second-half points, 15 coming in the fourth period, and finished with 26 points alongside one rebound and four assists for the Beermen, who are now tied with the Tropang Giga in the best-of-seven series at one game apiece.
Fajardo added 22 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists.
Pogoy made 21 points, six rebounds, three assists, and one steal, while Erram added 20 markers, 10 boards, and one steal for the Tropang Giga.
With a report from Ivan Saldajeno
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