Austria admits San Miguel sputtered out of PBA semifinals
MANILA, Philippines – The San Miguel Beermen finally emptied their fuel tank.
Head coach Leo Austria admitted his team, champion of 3 of the last 4 conferences, ultimately sputtered out of the 2016 PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals.
“Makikita mo talagang depleted na yung energy namin because of the game we played last Thursday against them. Short na short talaga yung energy namin para sa kanila (You’ll see our energy is really depleted. Our energy is short for them),” he said after Rain or Shine eliminated them in Game 4 with a 124-99 beating.
Austria also dismissed any idea that the conflict with import Tyler Wilkerson last week – which resulted in go-to reinforcement AZ Reid playing on Sunday, May 1 – had a significant effect on the Beermen.
“Even if we had Wilkerson, the players are drained na drained na rin e (very drained). Pagod na rin e (They’re tired). Because of the quarterfinals, semifinals. In the quarterfinals we lost in the first game. In the second game we were lucky to escape and then our next game is against Rain or Shine,” he explained.
“It was really hard because they are well-prepared and they have a lot of energy. Deeper yung bench nila compared sa amin e (Rain or Shine’s bench is deeper compared to ours).”
San Miguel has long been known to play its most heavily relied upon players for long minutes, most recently with former import Wilkerson and big man June Mar Fajardo.
Wilkerson played two full 48-minute games this conference without rest and averaged 43 minutes a game, while 40-minute nights used to be the norm for Fajardo in the all-Filipino conference.
Apart from a shortened rotation (San Miguel’s bench chipped in only 18 points in Game 4 compared to Rain or Shine’s 75), exhaustion may also stem from 3 straight championship runs in tight schedules with only a couple of weeks break in between conferences – save for the offseason lull.
San Miguel’s last title in the Philippine Cup was particularly hellish given they rallied from a 0-3 finals series deficit for all the marbles.
“Siguro pagod na rin. Drained na drained na rin kami eh kasi 3 conferences straight kami eh, pero hindi excuse yun. Natalo lang talaga kami (We’re probably tired also. We’re very drained from 3 conferences straight but that’s not an excuse. We simply lost),” offered Fajardo.
The grind rendered a number of Beermen injured, according to Austria. He cited injuries and aches and pains on players including Anthony Semerad, Marcio Lassiter, Ronald Tubid, Chris Ross, and Fajardo.
Austria said Arwind Santos, who had only 6 points on two field goals, was questionable for Sunday’s must-win game owing to high fever from tonsillitis at practice the day before. After getting IV fluids, Santos felt good enough to play but was not 100 percent.
Austria likewise did not put the burden on Reid.
"Let us be fair to AZ. This is his first game. With his 25 points and 17 rebounds I think that's a good contribution to the team. But the thing is our local players talagang depleted na 'yung energy nila e (their energy is depleted)," he explained.
"Wala na akong mahihingi sa kanila dahil last game, nakita niyo naman, lahat e all-out sila. Duma-dive sa bola (I can't ask anything more from them, you saw it, they went all-out. They dove for the ball). But tonight you'll see they are in pain."
San Miguel struggled in the best-of-5 semis series as Rain or Shine accomplished the rare feat of overwhelming the usually dominant Beermen. In Game 4 the Painters beat their foes down, climbing to double-digit leads and never quite allowed the Beermen to take control.
Rain or Shine will face the winner of the Alaska-Meralco series with the Aces leading 2-1.
“Gusto namin manalo pero ganun talaga, talo eh. Di mo naman maipapanalo lahat (We wanted to win but we lost. We can’t win everything),” Fajardo said.
“Bawi na lang next conference. Congrats sa Rain or Shine at good luck sa kanila (We’ll be back next conference. Congrats to Rain or Shine and good luck to them).” – Rappler.com