CJ Perez's finals career-high, Marcio Lassiter's go-ahead 3 lift SMB past Meralco to tie PBA PH Cup Finals

Marcio Lassiter and CJ Perez celebrate after the former's game-winning three. Dennis Acosta
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY—Marcio Lassiter hit what would be the winning basket as San Miguel got one back on Meralco in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals with a 95-94 win in Game 2 on Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Lassiter forced Bong Quinto to commit on a block attempt and faked him to get some space for a left-wing three with 13.2 seconds left that capped a game-deciding 6-1 run within the final 22 seconds.

CJ Perez sparked the Beermen's endgame rally as he hit a quick corner three that cut the Bolts' lead down to one, 93-92.

Chris Banchero, who before the Perez triple scored on a clutch three to increase Meralco's lead to four, 93-89, with 25.6 seconds to go, only converted a split from the line with 20.2 seconds to play, upping the lead to two, 94-92, making Lassiter's triple afterward the go-ahead basket for SMB.

Banchero tried to become clutch again, but he missed a layup attempt, and Perez was fouled with 3.2 seconds remaining.

Knowing that Meralco cannot call a player timeout anymore due to the PBA's new rule on timeouts, Perez, who missed his first free throw, intentionally missed the second before forcing Quinto to a traveling violation that essentially sealed his team's fate.

Perez finished with a finals career-high 34 points with four rebounds, five assists, and five steals to lead the Beermen, who tied the best-of-seven series against the Bolts.

June Mar Fajardo added 17 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, and three blocks.

Cliff Hodge had a season-high 25 points on 10-for-15 shooting with nine rebounds and one assist for Meralco.

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