Leo Austria expects tough semis v Greg Slaughter-less Ginebra

While San Miguel Beer enters the PBA Governors Cup as the prohibitive favorite due to the absence of Ginebra slotman Greg Slaughter, Beermen coach Leo Austria insisted the playoffs will showcase a different Kings.

Ginebra earned the right to face sister team San Miguel in the best-of-five semifinal series after subduing Alaska, 109-104 last Friday in their quarterfinal duel.

The Beermen, on the other hand, advanced to the Final Four for the fourth straight conference following their 114-110 victory over the NLEX Road Warriors last week.

Game One begins Monday at 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“We have to take advantage of that (Slaughter’s absence) in the playoffs but again, you can never know what will happen because they (Kings) will do everything na sa playoffs,” Austria told FOX Sports.

Slaughter, the former PBA Rookie of the Year, is gone for the rest of the season after suffering a partial ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear on his knee during his conference debut against Mahindra on Sept. 9.

The 28-year-old Slaughter contributed seven points, four rebounds and one assist in 10 minutes, before sustaining the injury early in the fourth quarter of the team’s 93-86 win against Mahindra.

Aside from having the league’s dominating player in June Mar Fajardo, Austria is happy to have comebacking import Elijah Millsap in the fold.

Millsap has been impressive in his first two games for the conference since replacing Mike Singletary, averaging 32.5 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists.

“Makikita mo na he (Millsap) keeps on running eh and he tries to undertand what we’re trying to do and he wants to be involved in everything,” observed Austria, the three-time PBA champion coach.

And even his quiet demeanor, Austria said the former Utah Jazz shows his leadership in other ways.

San Miguel beat Ginebra, 111-105 in overtime during their only meeting this conference. – Richard Dy

Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava