Jun 08, 2024

In CJ and Marcio, the Beermen trust

THERE was no apprehension on the part of Jericho Cruz as defeat stared San Miguel in the eyes during the waning seconds of Game 2 of the PBA Philippine Cup finals against Meralco.

He knew it wasn't over until the Fat Lady sang. He knew it wasn't over for as long as Marcio Lassiter and CJ Perez remained on the playing court.

And he was proven right later on as Perez and Lassiter buried back-to-back clutch baskets from deep and helped the defending champion salvaged a 95-94 win in a thrilling finish Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The come-from-behind win tied the series at 1-1 heading to Sunday's Game 3 also at the Big Dome.

"It was a big win for us. Talo na kami, e. Pero God is great. Binigyan pa kami ng chance na manalo," said Cruz.

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Everything appeared going down the drain for the Beermen in the final 25 seconds after Chris Banchero hit a huge trey to give the Bolts a 93-89 lead.

But Cruz didn't lose hope as San Miguel has been there and done that.

And the Beermen just did that behind the guns of Perez and Lassiter.

"Para sa akin as long na nasa loob sila, kumpiyansa ka na kaya pang makabalik, na kaya pang ipapanalo yung game," said Cruz.

Perez finished with a playoff career-high 34 points and had his highest output in a San Miguel uniform, while Lassiter was held to just six points on 2-of-8 shooting, but made the basket that mattered most.

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"Sila Marcio kasi they've been here long enough. Kumbaga ang tagal na nila sa liga. Siguro hindi mo na mabibilang yung game-winning shots na na-shoot niya. Him, Chris Ross, June Mar, di ba," said Cruz, who was good for seven points and two assists.

"Kaya thankful kami kay CJ, kay Marcio na they hit big shots for us. And hopefully, tuluy-tuloy na sana." (RG)