MANILA, Philippines -- San Miguel sorely missed the services of swingman Marcio Lassiter in Game 3 of their 2019 PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series against the Phoenix Fuel Masters on Sunday.
Lassiter, who averaged 19 points in the first two games of the series, was forced to sit out Game 3 due to back spasms.
"We have a good practice yesterday and nothing happens, just relaxing. We know that we're in shape. But pagdating niya dito kanina, something's wrong with his back, and we don't want to aggravate the situation," SMB coach Leo Austria explained after the game.
"Hindi playable, talagang back spasms. Maybe next game he will be okay, hopefully," he added.
Even without Lassiter, the Beermen remained competitive all the way through and had a chance to win in the closing stretch. However, potential game-winners by Chris Ross and Von Pessumal were both off-mark, and Phoenix held on for a 92-90 triumph.
That cut San Miguel's advantage in the best-of-seven series to one game, 2-1.
"Marcio is a big factor in our offense and defense because if we have Marcio, he could play defense and he could knock those shots," said Austria.
"It will be a big factor for us both on offense and defense, and might be, but it could happen to any team," he added.
However, the coach also pointed out that even without Lassiter "we still have a chance to win."
Lassiter had been the hero of SMB's 92-82 win in Game 2 last April 15, scoring 24 points and taking over in crunch time.
Austria hopes to have Lassiter back in the line-up on Tuesday, when they gun for a crucial 3-1 lead in Game 4 of the series.
"I think we have to be ready next game," he stressed.
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