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Late-game clutch shots elevate San Miguel to 2-0 series lead



The San Miguel Beermen did not falter from pressure as they displayed championship poise in the closing minutes to carve out a 103-95 victory over the Alaska Aces in Game 2 of the 2015 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors’ Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City.

The Aces unfurled a 10-4 run behind Sonny Thoss, Romeo Travis, and Cyrus Baguio in 9:13 of the first frame. San Miguel gained momentum from the deficit as Arizona Reid, Alex Cabagnot, and Marcio Lassiter made shots to take the lead, 15-12, with 5:40 left. From there, the Beermen sustained rhythm, not allowing the Aces to taste the lead. SMB widened the gap to six, 24-18, with less than three minutes left, but Alaska scored six more off free throws and a lay-up to close the quarter behind by four, 28-24.

The Beermen continued shooting from beyond the arc in the following quarter, with Chris Ross, Chris Lutz, and Ronald Tubid sinking one apiece to enhance their lead to double digits, 41-31, with 9:03 to go. Point-blank shots from Reid and June Mar Fajardo kept their lead intact, 45-35, with less than six minutes remaining, but the Aces, with shots made from Vic Manuel, Thoss, Jvee Casio, and Travis, switched on a 9-2 run to end the first half lagging by just three, 47-44.

Alaska displayed their never-say-die attitude in the third canto, turning the slim deficit to a deadlock, 55-all, with baskets from Casio, Baguio, and Travis in the 7:10 mark. Both teams played stifling defense to each other, not allowing one to pull away with as much as five points. After exchanges of baskets, SMB gained the upper hand, 65-62, after a Lassiter trey, but the duo of Chris Banchero and Travis took over to give Alaska the lead, 72-69, with 1:35 left. A Reid triple and a Fajardo split concluded the quarter in a 73-all knot.

From the tie, Alaska opened the final frame with another 9-3 run to gain advantage, 85-76, with 9:08 to go. But the nine-point deficit did not seem to shackle SMB, relying on their fluid ball movement to find and convert scores either inside or outside. The Beermen closed within two, 89-87, with less than four minutes left. Alaska scored four points to lead further, 93-87, but SMB made an 8-2 spree to tie the game, 95-all, after a Reid and-one lay-up with 1:27 left in the game.

Aces shooter Dondon Hontiveros went to the charity stripe after being fouled, having the opportunity to give Alaska the lead. Unfortunately, Hontiveros muffed both of his free throws, giving SMB a chance to capitalize. San Miguel delivered, as Lassiter sank a corner triple to propel his team, 98-95, with exactly a minute to go. Alaska had good chances, but all their shots missed its target. SMB scored five more from foul shots by Fajardo and Reid to eke out the 103-95 victory.

Lassiter’s clutch play made him the game’s best player with 17 points, highlighted by five treys, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists. Travis, this conference’s Best Import awardee, led Alaska with a double-double of 23 markers and 11 boards in a losing effort.

Game 3 of the Finals will be on Wednesday, July 15, 7 PM, also at the Big Dome.

The Scores: 

SMB (103) – Reid 37, Lassiter 17, Fajardo 16, Cabagnot 13, Ross 6, Lutz 5, Santos 4, Tubid 3, Semerad 2

ALASKA (95) – Travis 23, Thoss 14, Abueva 13, Casio 11, Banchero 10, Baguio 10, Dela Rosa 6, Jazul 6, Manuel 2

Quarterscores: 28-24, 47-44, 73-73, 103-95

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.