Amidst the struggles, San Miguel managed to emerge victorious after topping the young Terra Firma, Monday night, to finally get back in the winners’ circle of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup.
Several Beermen contributed in the victory. And for Coach Leo Austria, this will be huge for the team’s morale moving forward now that they have to tread on the season without star scorer Terrence Romeo.
Already without reigning, six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, SMB lost the 28-year-old super scorer after he dislocated his right shoulder versus TNT last Friday. He left the bubble the day after suffering the season-ending injury.
“This win is really important. If we lost this game, it’s really hard to recover because we’ll be up against strong teams in the next few games and we have a hectic schedule,” Austria said moments after the 105-98 win.
Austria feels proud of how his wards stepped up. A total of five players finished in double figures in the win that hiked their card to 2-2, with Mo Tautuaa leading the way with 25 points and six rebounds.
Paul Zamar, who usually comes off the bench, was inserted into the starting lineup. He did not disappoint, producing 11 points, four rebounds, three assists, and a steal in the 27 minutes he played.
Then there’s Von Pessumal, who provided the spark off the bench. Heading into the game with just 1.3-point average, the fourth-year gunner out of Ateneo supplied 17 markers built on five three-pointers.
And of course, as usual, there’s Arwind Santos and Marcio Lassiter. The former league MVP finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds; meanwhile, the 6-foot-3 sniper supplied 18 markers and seven dimes.
“I’m so thankful to the players because of their sense of urgency. Even though we don’t have Terrence, the players stepped up. Nagkaroon ng distribution ng time. Usually 30-plus minutes kinukuha ni Terrence, but we’re able to rotate some players and it did good sa team namin. Those players off the bench really stepped up,” Austria lauded.
For the four-time Baby Dalupan Coach of the Year, the win could also be attributed to the ‘constant meetings’ they’ve had with the SMC bosses, led by none other than Sports Director Alfrancis Chua.
Those meetings, according to Austria, came after their 88-107 loss to current leaders Tropang GIGA, who’s among the favorites in this shortened season owing to their star-studded starting five.
“I think this is the result of our constant meetings. After losing to TNT, we had a lot of meetings. I’m so thankful for the support of the management, especially boss Alfrancis Chua and boss Robert [Non],” he said.
“They keep on communicating with us. Talagang blow-by-blow, mino-monitor nila ang game. Boss, thank you sa inyo. I’m sorry for what I’ve done before. Maybe siguro I’m so stressed with the games because I don’t want to lose. But what can I do? I’m taking care of the players and I’m trying to balance it. But thank you boss. Andiyan kayo lagi sa likod namin.”