DESPITE clinching the top seed in the Asean Basketball League semifinals, San Miguel coach Leo Austria doesn’t want his team to coast in the final stretch of the eliminations.
“We have to make a statement,” Austria said. “We want to go to the playoffs on a winning note. We don’t want to relax.”
The Beermen formally claimed the No. 1 spot going to the playoffs after beating defending champion Indonesia Warriors, 70-66, on Friday night to improve their league-best record to 16-3, counting an ABL record 13-game winning streak.
The top spot guaranteed the Beermen homecourt advantage not just for the best-of-five semifinals but also in the finals should they go that far.
The Beermen play the Sports Rev Thailand Slammers twice in a row on Wednesday and Saturday at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City then wrap up their regular-season campaign against the Westports Malaysia Dragons on May 17 in Kuala Lumpur.
Austria, however, doesn’t want the Beermen to be complacent in their remaining three games as he wants them to advance to the semifinals on a high note.
Austria also wants San Miguel to stretch its winning streak.
“Even though we are in the semifinals, every game is big for us because of the winning streak,” said the Beermen coach.
Val Acuna stepped up for San Miguel in its last outing against the Warriors by scoring 15 points built on five three-pointers.
The final play dates of the eliminations should also be a perfect opportunity for Austria to see more of his second stringers like Acuna play more minutes.
He also noted the case of injured big man Eric Menk, who has yet to play regular minutes since he broke his nose several weeks back.
“I have the luxury of using a lot of players because I want to give the bench some confidence. I hope na si Eric, mabigyan ko ng playing time,” said Austria.
While the top seeding is already in the bag, the Beermen have yet to know their semifinal opponent as Thailand and Singapore are still in a neck-to-neck battle for the fourth and final semis berth.