The absence of high-scoring import Tyler Wilkerson turned out to be a blessing in disguise for San Miguel Beer—primarily for Beermen’s top gunner Marcio Lassiter.
Virtually a non-factor in their first two games, the 6-foot-2 Lassiter rediscovered his offensive flair just in time as San Miguel Beer stayed alive in their best-of-five PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals series against Rain or Shine behind a 104-98 victory in Game 3 on Thursday night at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.
After making just two of his 20 attempts in their previous two losses, Lassiter was back on his usual deadly form, firing away a playoff-best 30 points, spiked by five of the Beermen’s 12 made triples, enabling them to overcome the absence of Wilkerson, who was sacked by San Miguel Beer team management following his post-match tantrums last Tuesday.
More importantly, Lassiter’s explosion, coupled with his fellow Beermen’ rejuvenated form, enabled San Miguel Beer to dodge Rain or Shine’s big broom and set up the stage for Game 4 on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
“Si Marcio nag-benefit sa pagkawala ng import,” said Austria, 58. “Mababa ang morale niya dahil limited ang touches niya.”
Lassiter, who made 11 of his 16 attempts from the field aside from collecting five rebounds, four steals and one block, was glad he was able to rediscover his shooting touch “at a perfect time.”
“For me, I knew those shots in Games 1 and 2, they should have fell. Whether those are bad shots or good shots, every shot I take, I have that confidence it’s going in,” he added.
“Sometimes, it’s just not your night. And in the last two games, those weren’t my nights. But I always say, those shots I took, I also took them today. I didn’t change anything. I just continue like what Chris (Ross) said ‘Keep shooting the ball with confidence, it’s gonna drop.’ I got one and it kept on going.”
Even without Wilkerson, who was averaging 37.5 points, 14.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.5 blocks in their first two matches in the semis, Lassiter admitted he is confident that the Beermen can get the job done even with an all-Filipino crew.
“We all knew of the situation. With our backs against the wall, I felt like it has happened and we had the same kind of experience. We know when we have the guys in our room, the players who we battle with, we can prevail through a lot of things. Definitely, that’s a testament to our hearts and how we want it more,” he said. – By Jerome Lagunzad
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