A 26-point lead could not give San Miguel Beer the desired result against Kia Friday, but three clutch plays in the stretch did.
Marcio Lassiter struck for five straight points inside the last 47 seconds, lifting the Beermen to a 108-106 thriller over the Picanto that assured the defending champion’s claim to a top two spot in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Arwind Santos and Chris Ross did their part in turning the tide in SMB’s favor, resulting in an escape that gave the team a tournament-best overall record of 8-2.
Even if the Beermen wind up the eliminations with a loss to Rain or Shine on Wednesday, their top two finish and a twice-to-beat advantage over either the No. 7 or eighth-ranked team is secure.
But even coach Leo Austria admitted his team would have suffered a big blow had his crew not kept their poise after blowing an 89-63 third quarter lead and then staring at a 103-106 deficit in the last 62 seconds.
“This could have been a disaster for us going to the playoffs,” stated Austria.
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, Sara 0, Galanza 0.
Quarter scores: 29-23, 61-41, 91-71, 108-106.