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Bench depth a huge factor in series says Austria

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San Miguel head coach Leo Austria knows Rain or Shine’s full depth, and to be successful, his Beermen should at least match the impact of the Elasto Painters’ bench.

The first half of San Miguel-Rain or Shine Game 1 belonged to the Elasto Painters, as they brought tremendous intensity to catch the Beermen flat-footed and erect a 68-50 lead.

“Tonight na-surprise talaga kami eh. Pinaghandaan kami ng Rain or Shine,” Austria said.

Of all players, Chris Tiu and Jeric Teng led the charge early for Rain or Shine, as the team led by as much as 15. The onslaught continued in the second period as Beau Belga and JR Quinahan went on to combine for 31 first half points, from a variety of shots.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Bench depth a huge factor in series says Austria

San Miguel, meanwhile, looked to be relying too much on June Mar Fajardo, as the big man had 19 points in the first half alone while the rest of the team provided little help on both ends.

Austria rued lack of effort during the halftime huddle, and the story changed in the second half as San Miguel played with more intensity on both ends.

“Sabi ko after the first half, ‘alam natin ang ginagawa nila. What we need is the effort.’ What happened in the second half is inilabas nila yung effort nila,” he said.

The Beermen had been down 91-71 entering the fourth quarter when Austria went to his shock troopers to do damage.

Chris Ross and Ronald Tubid hassled the Rain or Shine guards on the defensive end, with San Miguel switching to a zone, and the Beermen were able to mount a huge comeback.

“I don’t know what to say. It is unbelievable. We were down 20 at one point and I thought we were going to lose this game,” Austria shared.

Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Bench depth a huge factor in series says Austria

“I have to give credit to Chris (Ross) and Ronald (Tubid). Chris led the team to have a lot of energy. Siya nag-inject ng energy doon e. Na-pressure sila.”

Tubid scored 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, including three triples, while Ross finished with 7 steals and was a plus-16. Ross also drilled the go-ahead three which pushed San Miguel up, 108-105, inside of the final two minutes.

Eventually, the Beermen escaped the Elasto Painters to complete the resounding fightback.

“Keep grinding,” Tubid said, about what Austria told the second group prior to the fourth quarter. “Sabi ko sa teammates ko parang hindi tayo defending champion the way we play eh. Wala tayong pride. Let’s have some pride and let’s grind also.”

“Every possession counts so we took it possession by possession. Nung nakadikit kami, yung pressure nasa kanila na. We were able to grind too. It just happened the role players stepped up and medyo sinwerte kami sa huli.”

Austria added in the next games, San Miguel must be able to draw production from their bench to become tougher to beat.

“It is very important lalo na (kapag kalaban) Rain or Shine. They score siguro 60 percent of their points from the bench. We seldom have a lot of points from our bench because of our starters. That is what I am trying to develop,” Austria said. “If the starters are playing well, the second unit must sustain it.”

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