MARCIO Lassiter was the hero for San Miguel Beer and Dondon Hontiveros the goat for Alaska in Game Two of the PBA Governors Cup Finals on Sunday night, but there was a time when they played altogether different roles.
That of student and mentor.
Lassiter acknowledged the Cebuano hotshot took him under his wings as an understudy during their time together in the original Gilas Pilipinas team under Serbian coach Rajko Toroman back in 2011.
“It (mentoring from Hontiveros) was definitely special. We go back, we had some history with Gilas. He’s been a great mentor to me. I look up to him as one of the best shooters,” said Lassiter.
“He’s been very consistent all these years.”
From all the lessons he learned from Hontiveros, Lassiter said there was one that he never forgot - and that is to be ready to strike whenever an opening arises.
“He told me to be ready, being in the moment. He told me things about being open - separation shots. Those days he’s taught me. He hasn’t told me all of it, but he was able to help me out throughout the course of my career,” he said.
The student apparently learned well.
On Sunday night, Lassiter got the opportunity to hit a dagger against Alaska and took it, hitting a big corner three-pointer that paved the way for the Beermen's 103-95 win in Game Two.
Ironically, he made the shot with Hontiveros guarding him, although a tad late on the rotation to stop the shot.
“I was open so I took the shot," the deadshot from California State Fullerton said. "If the opportunity arises for me to take the shots, I hope I can knock it down again."
And did it matter that his mentor was guarding him?
“Once the ball goes up, I am here to win. It doesn’t matter if it’s Kobe (Bryant) or whoever the great players are out there (guarding me). I’m still gonna compete,” said Lassiter.
Asked about his former understudy, Hontiveros admitted Lassiter has become so good this season there is no point comparing them, saying the SMB gunner is 'really up there.'
“Hindi ko na tinitignan yun sa individual (aspect). Obviously, sobrang layo ng agwat. He’s really up there," the 15-year veteran said of Lassiter.
“Nakikita ko na na he will be the best two guard right now. Nakikita ko na 'yan kahit before, offense and defense. Magaling talaga siya,” he added.
The irony of their situation in Game Two, when one became hero and the other the heel, is also not lost on Hontiveros.
“Hindi ko masasabing may rivalry kami. Kasi he’s up there. Ako naman I am trying to make it up,” he said. “Siya hero ng game today, ako kailangan kong bumawi next game!”
But like what he taught Lassiter, Hontiveros said he will be ready to take his opportunities once they arise come Game Three on Wednesday.
“If the shots are available for me, I would definitely take it,” he said.