YOU'D readily know that the San Miguel Beermen haven't been together for a long time when you see import Brian Williams asking team officials the name of back-up point guard Axel Doruelo in the middle of the team’s tune-up game against Barako Bull last Wednesday.
So it's no surprise then that despite a victory over reigning champions Indonesia Warriors to open the ABL season, Leo Austria is using the two-week break before the Beermen's next game to work on the team's chemistry.
“Before our first game against Indonesia, we didn’t have any tune-up. Pina-memorize ko lang ‘yung ibang plays," said Austria. "Naka-apekto rin kasi we had an ugly game against Indonesia.
"Pero ngayon, everyday we keep on improving.”
The Beermen have undergone a major buildup in their bid to improve on their runner-up finish in their maiden season in the regional league, but the pieces did not fall into place until close to the opening of the campaign.
Austria took over from Bobby Parks while Asi Taulava and Eric Menk moved over from the PBA. While the three had enough time to make the transition, imports Williams and Gabe Freeman only arrived a few days before the season.
As a result, the team didn’t play any tune-up games with its two imports during the preseason, but finally had two this week against PBA ballclubs Barako Bull and Barangay Ginebra.
The Beermen also looked impressive in both games, routing Barako Bull, 97-77, before following it up with a 102-93 victory over Ginebra on Friday.
“It’s good for us to gel with each other, sandali lang sila nagkasama but now everyday, may improvement eh. Nakilala na nila ang isa’t isa,” said the soft-spoken Austria.
Austria, however, was quick to play down both victories, saying he needs to wait until the Beermen's next outing against the Saigon Heat in Vietnam next week before he can make a fair judgment on the team's improvement.
He also warned that after the 64-53 win over the Warriors in Jakarta last week, the Beermen will be marked men in the league.
“I’m sure na magre-regroup ‘yung kalaban dahil na-measure na nila kung gaano kalakas ‘yung mga teams and they are looking at San Miguel,” Austria said.