Mendoza: Another San Miguel escape act

Talk about luck and you don’t have to go far. The San Miguel Beermen (SMB) has lots of that. In fact, it seems the squad was born with luck as its umbilical cord.

Just last weekend, SMB did it again.

Down by a point with 4.5 seconds to go, Alex Cabagnot used the left elbow to xerox SMB’s tireless refrain of escape acts.

From there, the lefty jumped away with total confidence to give SMB an 88-87 victory over Northport in Game 1 of their best-of-three PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals.

With Northport running out of timeouts, it couldn’t complete a play with 1.5 seconds left while inbounding from afar, the much-defended desperation heave from centerline going haywire.

It was a heartbreaker of a loss for coach Pido Jarencio’s Batang Pier.

Before Cabagnot uncorked the dagger over the outstretched arms of the much-taller, towering Sidney Onwubere, Northport appeared headed to victory with that 87-86 lead with under five ticks left.

That’s because Robert Bolick’s triple that virtually came all the way from Mt. Pinatubo, not far from DHVSU Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga, incredibly found its mark.

Bolick’s bomb of a shot triggered instant euphoria on the Northport bench—alas, a short-lived hysteria.

During the SMB timeout after Bolick’s blast, everybody thought that Beermen coach Leo Austria would make Marcio Lassiter shoot the make-or-bust shot.

And why not?

Didn’t Lassiter score SMB’s buzzer-beater of a winning basket—a triple at that from deep left—in the game against Alaska before Northport, from a nifty pass by CJ Perez?

Said Perez: “I passed it to him (Lassiter) because I knew he’d be the better shooter than me in that kind of situation.”

If Austria’s choice to make Cabagnot the last-basket shooter was a masterpiece, I couldn’t agree more.

But, look, was Cabagnot not absent the last seven games due to a meniscus tear on his left knee?

And Cabagnot hasn’t had a practice game before the Northport battle.

Surprisingly, though, Cabagnot was the team’s top scorer (18 points) before Austria tapped him to go for the winning shot.

And so, immediately after Cabagnot received the inbound pass from Chris Ross, he drove from near the keyhole to the left flank before unleashing the fall away shot. Bang!

Another day in the office—for SMB.