After Grand Slam hopes foiled, Leo Austria hopes SMB motivated for Govs’ Cup title defense. The San Miguel Beermen came into the 2016 Oppo PBA Comissioner’s Cup with Grand Slam aspirations.
They had to kiss those hopes goodbye following their 124-99 setback at the hands of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in Game Four of their best-of-five semifinals series on Sunday.
San Miguel coach Leo Austria rued coming so far in these playoffs and falling short at this juncture.
“Ayaw kong isipin na parang hindi sa amin yung championship. We’re in the semifinals and we’re two games away from making the finals. But we came short because of so many reasons,” Austria told InterAksyon.com.
The San Miguel coach believes that the pressure placed on the Beermen has been difficult to deal with.
“Unang-una, ang players ay talagang mentally drained dahil there’s always pressure on us, on ourselves because we want to win,” he said. “A lot of fans were chanting grand slam, grand slam. It’s always in the mind of the players. If you keep on thinking it, lalong humihirap.”
He added that health was also a factor in the team’s campaign this conference.
“Very short rin yung rotation namin because of some injuries because our off the bench players were coming off injuries. Ryan Arana is not 100-percent, Ronald Tubid is not 100-percent, so as David Semerad. Those guys provide the energy. Yancy de Ocampo is not yet healthy, too,” Austria said.
“Yung team namin na nanalo sa ULTRA (in Game 3) ibang-iba kaysa kanina dahil short kami sa rotation. Yung big men namin hindi na makatakbo pati yung mga wingmen, sunog na sunog na rin.”
The Beermen had to go through a lot of adversity in the tournament. They started things off with several players on the injured list, including back-to-back PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo, who was recovering from a knee injury. They also had to deal with a loss to the SMB family as Arwind Santos’ mother Araceli passed away.
Recently, they also had trouble with import Tyler Wilkerson, whom the team cut ties with in the crucial stages of their playoff run.
“It took its toll on us,” Austria said.
But the coach now wants his team to buckle down and focus on the next task – their defense of the Governors’ Cup title next conference.
“AZ Reid told me that this is a great motivation for us for the next conference. Kasi last season, same conference, one win away kami to get into the playoffs. This time, we made it to the semis and we were No.1. I hope this will serve as a motivation for us.”