San Miguel Beer avoided an epic disaster as they escaped with a close 108-106 victory over the KIA Picanto in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup, on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen thus improved to 8-2 record to solidify their hold of the twice-to-beat advantage heading into the playoffs.
Failing to complete a comeback, the Picanto, on the other hand, will be ending their All-Filipino Cup campaign with only one win against ten losses.
Marcio Lassiter scored SMB’s last five points in the final 48 seconds, connecting on a three-pointer and an alley-oop basket that sealed the win for the Beermen, despite wasting a lead as high as 26 points.
Arwind Santos carried the offensive load for San Miguel with 27 points, 12 boards, five assists, two blocks, and one steal in 37 minutes. Lassiter backed him up with 22 points, spiked with five treys, five boards, three assists, and two steals in 35 minutes.
Even without June Mar Fajardo, the Beermen remained dominant and looked poise for another easy win. However, the Picanto just refused to back down, giving the defending champions a huge scare.
Staring at an 63-89 deficit in the third period, KIA woke up in the final canto and went on a seering 24-3 rampage to finally take the lead, 106-103, 1:03 to go.
That’s when Lassiter started taking matters in his own hand.
With 48 seconds, Lassiter tied the game at 103-all with a booming triple. After Santos made a big defensive stop on the other end, Ross found Lassiter underneath the basket for an easy game-winning lay-up with only a second left.
Glenn Khobuntin finished with 15 points for the KIA Picanto, with 11 of those coming from the fourth quarter where they outscored San Miguel, 35-17.
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, Galanza 0, Sara 0.
Quarter scores: 29-23, 61-41, 91-71, 108-106.