Austria reminds SMB to focus on TNT not referees in semis

After getting back at TNT with ease the last time out, is defending two-time champion San Miguel Beer back as series favorites?

Beermen coach Leo Austria begged to differ, saying their 2017 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals—now reduced to a virtual best-of-three—with the KaTropa remains too close to call ahead of Thursday night’s Game 5 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

After finding themselves pinned against the ropes following back-to-back losses in Games 2 and 3, San Miguel Beer displayed the true character of a legit champion in Game 4 last Tuesday when the Beermen asserted their usual dominance over the KaTropa in the middle quarters.

The Beermen methodically finished off the Katropa via their morale-boosting 97-86 victory, leveling the series at 2-all in the process.

“This is a game of adjustments,” stressed Austria, refusing to fall into any sense of complacency against a TNT side which is capable enough of foiling SMB’s drive to a third straight all-Filipino crown.

“We’re a powerhouse team but Talk ’N Text is also a powerhouse. Talagang malaki ang respeto ko sa kanila. Actually takot nga ako na sila ang makalaban dahil alam nila saan kami may advantage at disadvantage. Give credit to coach Nash (Racela), nahahanap niya ‘yung weakness namin.”

Officiating should be another point of emphasis anew, with Racela insisting that he felt the Beermen got some sort of “special treatment” from the men in gray in the course of their Game 4 victory.

Austria, however, won’t dwell on such aspect, saying:  “A lot of missed calls, non calls and bad calls ang nangyayari but we treat that as part of the game, breaks of the game.”

“If it didn’t go to our side so that’s it. That’s part of basketball but the thing is you don’t have to give the referee a chance to call you so you have to be careful.”

Anticipating and countering his counterpart’s plans is tops on Austria’s agenda.

“This is a chess match and alam nila na naghahanap sila ng advantage, nagti-three bigs sila, nag-i-small lineup but we did not. Kumbaga we won’t fall into their trap and we have to play our game,” he said.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @BudoyLagunzad