San Miguel avoid early deficit, steals Game 2 from Meralco to tie PBA Finals at 1-1

The San Miguel Beermen clawed their way back from the brink of defeat, forcing a thrilling 95-94 victory over the Meralco Bolts in Game 2 of the 2024 PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Friday night at the Araneta Coliseum.

This win evens the best-of-seven series at 1-1, ensuring a tightly contested battle for the championship.

CJ Perez was on fire for San Miguel, erupting for a playoff career-high 34 points. He not only led the scoring charge but also contributed with 5 steals and 5 assists, showcasing his all-around brilliance.

However, it was Marcio Lassiter who delivered the ice-cold dagger in the closing seconds. Trailing by two with under 15 seconds remaining, Lassiter sank a clutch three-pointer over Bong Quinto, giving the Beermen a one-point lead and ultimately securing the victory.

The Meralco Bolts seemed poised to take a commanding 2-0 series lead. Following a floater from Bong Quinto, Chris Banchero drilled a three-pointer with 25 seconds left, putting Meralco up by four points (93-89). However, the resilient Beermen refused to back down. CJ Perez drained a three-pointer to keep San Miguel within striking distance, followed by a crucial split free throw from Banchero that left the door open for a dramatic finish.

A quick timeout by San Miguel proved pivotal. Emerging from the break, Perez hit a clutch three-pointer to cut the deficit to one point (92-93). Then, with the clock ticking down, Lassiter took advantage of a defensive lapse by Bong Quinto, draining a go-ahead three-pointer that sealed the win for the Beermen. Meralco still had a chance to steal the victory, but Banchero’s potential game-winning layup missed the mark, sending the San Miguel faithful into a frenzy.

Cliff Hodge had a stellar performance for Meralco, notching a season-high 25 points and 9 rebounds. Unfortunately, his efforts were overshadowed by the Bolts’ late-game collapse. They squandered a 93-89 lead with just 30 seconds remaining, failing to capitalize on key opportunities.

With this dramatic come-from-behind victory, the San Miguel Beermen have successfully forced a best-of-five series. The momentum has undoubtedly shifted, and both teams will need to regroup and strategize effectively to emerge victorious. The PBA Philippine Cup Finals promise to be a nail-biting series, with each game holding the potential for similar last-second heroics.