With the San Miguel-Rain or Shine PBA Philippine Cup semi-finals series turning around in the Elasto Painters’ favor after a 111-106 Game 3 win, Beermen head coach Leo Austria might have just taken a calculated risk.
Popularly known for being a father figure to teams he’s handled, Austria was upset this time when he faced the press, pointing out the lack of discipline among his players.
“Nawawala na ang disiplina namin. I think that is the cause ang baba ng laro namin,” Austria said. “Especially in the semis against Rain or Shine, hindi pwede ganoon eh. Rain or Shine, they are really going for the championship.”
The Beermen had a much better start to Game 3, and led after the first quarter, 27-26. San Miguel maintained the high level of play and dominated Rain or Shine in the third quarter, 36-20, for an 86-78 lead entering the final period.
June Mar Fajardo had 32 points in just three quarters, and with the Elasto Painters already struggling without Raymond Almazan (sprain), the team appeared to be on its way to a 2-1 series lead.
However, the Beermen blew away the advantage, as the Elasto Painters went on a 14-5 run to snatch the 92-91 cushion. From there, it was back and forth, with Rain or Shine stealing the game using a 33-20 fourth quarter.
The result obviously left Austria disappointed, and the mentor took the blame for the drop-off in performance.
“We were not playing smart basketball. Kasi sa practice medyo nawawala, that is my responsibility,” Austria said. “I told the players it is not too late, we still have time. But we have to play intelligent basketball.”
The Beermen did put up a better fight when it came to rebounding, as they had a 58-45 lead in total boards, but the Elasto Painters had a 27-11 lead in fastbreak points and also drew 54 points from the bench, 41 more than San Miguel.
Austria warned the Beermen to play better and not let the situation reach boiling point.
“Pero huwag na nila hintayin na magalit ako. Tao rin ako, pwede rin ako magalit. I am ready to stake my career. Disciplinarian ako since I was a player,” Austria said.
Visibly disappointed by the setback, and with a 1-2 deficit to overcome against an equally tough contender, Austria might have just pushed the button to fire his team up.
While changes will have to wait until the next few games, Austria refuses to take any chances, and it has already reached this point. He has had enough, and expects a better San Miguel crew to show up.
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