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Austria to lean on Fajardo’s presence as main edge against Rain or Shine

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After sneaking past the Meralco Bolts Monday, 102-86, San Miguel Beer head coach Leo Austria is bracing for a tough semi-final series against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters which fires off on Thursday.

The Beermen escaped disaster after pulling away in the fourth quarter to advance, but not before dropping the first game and losing their twice to beat edge.

“This (Meralco) team is really organized and well prepared. We were surprised in Game 1 but we were able to adjust. I am happy that the players responded sa hinihingi ng mga fans,” Austria said.

“Wala akong masabi sa mga player dahil pinanindigan nila yung sinasabi nila na ‘coach, we will win.’ We were put in a scary situation and cannot afford to lose.”

The Beermen mentor also lauded June Mar Fajardo for his consistent effort all-game long. Fajardo finished with 22 points and 16 rebounds, going 8-for-10 on the floor.

“Makikita mo sa mata niya na he was determined to play well. He is not just playing but he is there to win,” Austria spoke of his big man.

Pitted against an also talented Elasto Painters crew, Austria added he is banking primarily on the presence of the reigning league MVP, which he believes is the main strength of the Beermen in the upcoming battle.

“It will be a very tough series. We do not have enough time to prepare. Usually, we win because of our scouting report. Knowing Rain or Shine, we have to be tough. They keep on running and is good in defense,” he said.

“The good thing is they do not have a giant that could cancel out with June Mar. I think that is the advantage that we have right now.”

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