SAN Miguel is ready to put the 'Tyler Wilkerson' incident behind it. And on Friday night, the defending champion took the first step toward exorcising the ghost of their past.
The Beermen booked a fourth straight semifinal appearance by surviving a gritty NLEX side, 114-110, at the start of the PBA Governors Cup quarterfinal playoffs.
By making it to the next round, the defending champion put itself in a position to vie for another championship, and make up for an unfinished business in the Commissoner's Cup when they lost to Rain or Shine in the semis after the team sent home Wilkerson following a major tantrum during the course of the series.
Gunner Marcio Lassiter said the sad experience was definitlly a big motivation for them in this season-ending conference.
"Missing out in the finals was tough," said Lassiter about last conference. "But we understood, we have some bad breaks, and it is what it is. We lost, we didn't win."
Lassiter finished with 14 points, three rebounds, and three assists in the win over the Road Warriors. His clutch three-pointer late in the game put the Beermen finally in control, 110-102, after NLEX gave them some scary moments in the payoff period.
Although the Beermen barely survived the Road Warriors, who rallied from as much as a 63-46 deficit to make a game out of it, Lassiter said games of this kind would only benefit the team once the going gets tough in the semis.
"Honestly this is a good preparation for us in the future because there will always be close games," he said.
The arrival of Elijah Millsap as San Miguel import is also a step in the right direction for the Beermen to redeem themselves, Lassiter added.
"Now we know we have a solid import and if we continue to play well, we can makr big push for the upcoming rounds," added Lassiter.