San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria hopes the long break will work on the Beermen’s favor—and not the other way around—when they plunge back to action on Wednesday night against the struggling Meralco Bolts in the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
Still on top of the 12-team heap with a 4-1 mark, the reigning two-time champion San Miguel Beer is coming off an 11-day respite following an impressive 106-80 victory over struggling NLEX in Cagayan De Oro City.
Up against a Bolts side eager to stop a two-game bleeding and improve their 2-3 mark so far will surely add to Austria’s immediate concerns.
“I hope na ‘yung break namin hindi makaapekto sa condition nila. Kung may energy kami, it will give us good results,” Austria told FOX Sports on Tuesday at the end of San Miguel Beer’s practice session at the Roxas Boulevard-based venue.
With a big chance to widen the gap over their closest pursuers, Austria isn’t one to let the Beermen look past the Bolts, saying: “Very dangerous team ‘yung Meralco lalo na’t galing sila sa two consecutive losses. For them urgent sa kanila na manalo.”
“You can never know what will happen. Most of the teams are very competitive. Halfway through the eliminations, I know all of them will step up especially this Meralco team because it’s a must-win for them. Or else malalagay sila sa bottom 4.”
For sure, the Beermen are raring to make a Top 2 finish that will earn themselves a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals. Austria is hoping to see how his wards will come up with a fitting encore to their previous victory.
“Gusto ko lang maging cosnsistent kami like nu’ng panalo namin against NLEX when everybody played well. Everybody was so focused and they know what to do offensively and defensively,” he stressed.
“‘Yung practice namin kanina, okay naman. Makikita mo na medyo kahit papano, mayroon silang energy despite their two days of break last (December) 24 and 25. We hope na maging consistent kami sa ginagawa namin.”
Austria reiterated his call on the Beermen to keep their collective focus on the task at hand.
“‘Yun nga ang in-address ko sa kanila because (the result of) every game can change the complexion of the standings. Malaking advantage talaga para sa amin kung mananalo kami,” he concluded. – Jerome Lagunzad
Follow this writer on Twitter: @BudoyLagunzad