Von Pessumal's career-game another testament to great depth of SMB bench
Von Pessumal scored a career-high 18 points off the bench for SMB. Jerome Ascano

SO who says San Miguel only relies on its dreaded starting unit to win games?

The team’s second group is just as lethal, too.

Von Pessumal led another strong performance by the Beermen’s bench, coming through with a career-game in the 102-90 demolition of Barangay Ginebra on Friday night at the start of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The former Ateneo sniper scored 18 points, 13 of them coming in the fourth quarter as he led San Miguel’s second unit in completing the job for Arwind Santos and the rest of the starters.

Reserves Pessumal, Brian Heruela, and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser accounted for 21 of the Beermen's 24 points, in the final quarter, with Marcio Lassiter the only starter to contribute offensively.

Pessumal went 7-of-10 from the field, including 4-of-5 from three-point range, while adding three rebounds and two assists. Rosser and Heruela combined for 12 points.  

“Yung bench namin, we believe we’re as capable as the first group. Dapat ganun yung mindset ng bench di ba,” he said later.

“When you come in, dapat sustain or even higher yung level ng play so that when the starters come back, it would be easier for them, and they’ll have a better time closing the game.”

Pessumal, acquired by San Miguel in the final conference last season in a trade with Globalport for Arnold Van Opstal, said the team’s starting five made things easier for them.

He said the mere presence of four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo at the post assures the San Miguel shooters good looks at the basket.

“Ang dali ng basketball dito, ibibigay mo lang kay June Mar sa post (yung bola) and 'yung spacing which the team provides gets me open. So it’s my job to knock down (those shots).”

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Aside from being grateful to his teammates, Pessumal is also thankful for the breaks being given him by coach Leo Austria.

“Sinusuklian ko lang si coach, because he always encourages me during practice, during games. Even if I had a bad game, he always give me chances,” said the sophomore wingman.

Game Two of the series will be on Sunday also at the Big Dome. And just like in the opener, Pessumal said he will be coming in ready like a hitman.

“Ready lang ako the whole conference, especially this playoffs,” he said. “If coach needs me to come off the bench and give them some energy or extra shots, I’m ready.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @gerardmos