PBA Finals MANILA, Philippines — Marcio Lassiter of San Miguel will not play in his first PBA finals Philippine Cup match on Sunday. He has appeared in three of the club’s five-year reign in the centerpiece tournament.
But the seasoned veteran is well aware that the match against defending champion TNT. Which will take place at the fabled Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, will present unique challenges.
When the game starts at six o’clock, the Beermen won’t have Alex Cabagnot or Arwind Santos. So he has two reasons to believe this is the case.
“It’s going to be different because before, you can bank on chemistry,” he told the Inquirer shortly after San Miguel leveled the series with a decisive 114-96 victory last Friday night.
“That was the biggest thing. It’s like, it doesn’t matter what game was it. We just knew—boom! boom! boom!—where everyone is,” he added.
The Beermen are navigating this finale without two of their former skippers. They are also doing so with a handful of players who have not yet competed in a competition with the same level of intensity, stakes, and pressure that this one entails.
This is the first championship series that CJ Perez, a spitfire guard, has participated in. In the meantime, the winner-take-all match on Sunday will be the first time franchise newcomers. And now crucial role players for San Miguel Simon Enciso, Rodney Brondial, Jericho Cruz, and Robbie Herndon. Compete in one of these matches.
And this is the source of the majority of Lassiter’s concerns. However, it’s not like he’s completely clueless about how to approach it. In the past, he was identical to these players in every way.
“If I’m being completely honest, every match I play and every workout I do is to get back to this. I am aware that things can occur. Different lineups happen. Lassiter said, “I just knew that I can control what I can do, and that is always to go hard. Put in the training, the work, the extra shooting. And just be prepared for this kind of game.”
Coming into this is similar to trying to educate them in other ways. After that, he said, “I know these guys are going to be ready, but this is more of like, an experience.”
The swingman, who is 6 feet 3 inches tall, believes that the only way to learn is to experience everything.
“They need to be in these ‘experience games,’ these type of environments, so they could build their confidence from it,” Lassiter said.
“All we (June Mar Fajardo, Chris Ross, and other veterans in the team) can do is hopefully lead by example. Hopefully, show them that they got to be aggressive,” he added.
“Because honestly, there’s only so much you could say. You just have to experience it, be in it. And that was how I was. I didn’t know what to expect when I came here. I just knew that I had to play each possession one by one, give it all one by one until good things could happen.”
The eight-time PBA champion, now 35 years old. Summed it all up with some straightforward guidance for this group of players working toward restoring the storied club to its former glory.
“(This) might be the best thing I could tell them: Play each possession by letting the game come to you,” he said.
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