SAN Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria admits the daunting task facing the Beermen in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup title duel with Talk ‘N Text beginning Wednesday.
One thing that could pretty well give the Beermen a run for their money is Joshua Smith, the hulking TNT import who has been giving the Texters a huge lift in inside plays.
It is not sure whether Smith has fully recovered from his foot injury, and Austria said they need to practice well as smith will definitely a big headache to the Beermen if and when he plays.
“We don’t know yet kung makakalaro ‘yung import nila, ‘yun ang magiging problema if ever na makalaro,” said Austria.
Joshua hurt his foot in the middle of the second quarter of Game Three and never returned, and the Texters went down in defeat.
Whether Joshua can continue playing or not does not change Austria’s forecast of fierce best-of-7 duel, more so since the TNT locals are also competitive.
“Their (Texters) locals really are competitive, star-studded sila, that’s why I’m expecting a very tough series against this team,” stressed Austria.
Austria is looking to steer the Beermen to their 24th championship in their 37th finals appearance in the PBA, and their fifth under his watch.
The Beermen had already won the kickoff Philippine Cup, and their advance to the midseason conference finals puts them on course for another possible grand slam.
But Austria readily cut the talks on grand slam, saying their focus is per conference.
“It is a good opportunity for us (to be on that possibility) but we’re not after that. Our treatment is every conference is a must-win for us, dahil everybody is expecting us to be in the finals every conference and win the championship,” explained Austria.
Austria has already won four titles for the Beermen, including the prestigious Philippine Cup which they won for three straight year beginning in 2015.
The other conference they won was Governors’ Cup also in 2015. Ironically, the Beermen under Austria have not won yet the Commissioner’s Cup.
The Beermen won the Philippine Cup and Governors’ Cup in 2015, missing the Commissioner’s Cup. In the succeeding season, they won the Philippine Cup, and made the semis of the Commissioner’s Cup but were beaten by Rain or Shine.
Will the Beermen finally win their first Commissioner’s Cup under Austria?
“As I said, it’s very tough. Itong conference na to ay talagang mahirap. All teams played very well, nag triple-tie pa after the eliminations,” said Austria.
However, there is one thing that makes Austria sound confident as well despite the tough times ahead of them.
“Nagpapasalamat kami. Ngayon lang kami papunta ng finals na walang mga nasa sidelines na players,” he said.
“Also, our semifinal games which were very tough gave us momentum going into the finals,” added Austria, while citing the tough times they had against the Star Hotshots.