IT was the moment San Miguel head coach Leo Austria had feared the most.
The Beermen’s 16-game winning streak in the Asean Basketball League came to a screeching halt on Thursday night when they bowed to a determined Sports Rev Thailand Slammers, 62-60, in Game One of their best-of-five semifinal series.
The loss was the first for San Miguel since February 16 when it bowed to the Westports Malaysia Dragons, 76-82.
Even before the start of the series, Austria had warned the Beermen that the playoffs is a whole new ballgame and that the 16-game win streak won't count. His warning has apparently fallen on deaf ears.
Now the Beermen not only lost the series opener, but likewise gave up homecourt advantage in the best-of-five series.
“It’s the most embarrassing moment for us this season,” Austria said after emerging from a gloomy San Miguel locker room at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City. “We are not used to it.”
Austria believed the Beermen didn’t play with a sense of urgency against the Slammers.
“I gave a warning to them. I’m really worried because Thailand has the materials to beat anyone in the ABL. And it happened because we didn’t perform well,” Austria said.
The Slammers were the clear aggressor based on statistics.
Thailand had more offensive rebounds, 23-18, and steals, 13-9. On the other hand, San Miguel committed 25 turnovers as against 17 for Thailand.
“When it comes to talent and skills, we have the advantage. But tonight, it didn’t prevail, it didn’t exist. We didn’t play disciplined basketball. We didn’t execute well on defense and offense,” Austria said.
But the San Miguel coach said it was the things which did not show in the stats sheet that beat the Beermen.
“They (Thailand) have a big heart, they refused to lose and everyone worked hard. They wanted to win. They are inspired,” Austria said.
Austria is hopeful the loss is just a minor stumbling block for the team, but warned the Slammers are capable of stealing the series lead once the playoffs shift to Bangkok for Games Three and Four.
“Maybe this might be a blessing in disguise for us. My players have to work hard and make adjustments. Or else, we are in trouble,” Austria said.