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Tiebreaker Times


Meralco’s focus on Marcio Lassiter backfires in Game 2

Quite ironic that the facet Meralco tried to contain in Game 2 of the PBA Season 48 Philippine Cup Finals would be the very reason behind its demise.

The Bolts did limit Marcio Lassiter and his outside sniping in a bid to go 2-0 against San Miguel on Friday night, only to find themselves getting beaten by a clutch triple from the league’s soon-to-be all-time leader in threes made.

“I had a good look at the basket. That’s all I really need,” he told reporters moments after their 95-94 escape at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

Lassiter only finished with six points on eight attempts from the floor and he felt that the opposing defense doubled down on him. It was somewhat inevitable after he went 3-of-7 from deep for 16 points in Game 1 last Wednesday.

The veteran marksman actually has no issues with being defended more, since his focus for Friday was on defense as well. Plus, drawing the defense allowed the others like June Mar Fajardo and CJ Perez to get in rhythm.

Perez eventually finished with a playoff career-high 34 points, four rebounds, and five assists while the seven-time MVP tallied 17 and 13.

“I was really trying to play more defense,” said Lassiter, who also collected six rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block in nearly 33 minutes. “I know my shots are gonna be there. A lot of it is just reading Meralco’s defense.

“They’ve made great adjustments. And it seemed like today, they put more focus on me, which was fine. It allowed CJ and June Mar to get going early.”

But at the end of the night, the BPC favorites’ performances would have gone for naught had it not been for Lassiter’s endgame heroics.

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“They wanted to contain some outside shooting today. But it allowed June Mar and CJ to keep going and be aggressive. So if there’s this little opening, that’s when I have to be ready and take that shot,” said the 37-year-old Gilas OG.

But never one to take all the spotlight, Lassiter deflected the credit to Perez, who dished him the ball for the go-ahead trifecta with 13.2 seconds left — a shot he made after getting rid of Bong Quinto’s defense through a pump fake.

It was the star guard, too, that nailed the triple to bring themselves to within a solitary point, 92-93, after Meralco appeared to have bagged the victory when it led by four, 93-89, following a triple by Chris Banchero with 25.6 ticks left,

“Coming down, I was just thinking, ‘If the shot’s there, take it.’ I think CJ even said, ‘Be ready,'” Lassiter said.

“Credit to CJ for keeping his head up and finding me on the corner. It would not have happened if CJ didn’t see me.”

He refuses to get too high as well after yet another game-winner, staying focused as much as he can for tougher battles ahead against the Bolts.

“Man, if this is the last game of the series, you know, the fourth win, that’d be great. But it’s just the first win,” Lassiter said.

“It’s the first win of the series. So I can’t rate it. It’s just one possession, if you really think about it.”

Written By

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

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