SAN MIGUEL has once again assembled a formidable squad in its quest for an Asean Basketball League title, but coach Leo Austria stressed that it takes much more than talent alone to win championships.
“(Last year) everybody was thinking that we are very talented and we were just relying on our talent. It’s hard to win relying on talent,” said Austria on Tuesday during the PSA Forum at Shakey’s UN Avenue.
“This team is a lot different from last season.”
Last year’s Beermen fell short of expectations and bowed to the Indonesia Warriors in the final, but the team has since undergone a major revamp as SMB tries to win the title in its second season in the Asean league.
Three teams from three different countries have won the previous ABL seasons and with the Philippine Patriots out of the ABL roster, focus will be on the Beermen this season.
SMB starts its campaign on Friday night on the road against the Indonesia Warriors at the Mahaka Square in Jakarta.
Asi Taulava and Eric Menk, veterans of many PBA cage wars, lead the Beermen for this season’s ABL along with holdovers Leo Avenido and Chris Banchero, and imports Brian Williams and Gabe Freeman.
Completing the lineup are Val Acuna, Michael Burtscher, JR Cawaling, Axel Doruelo, Paolo Hubalde, Christian Luanzon, RJ Rizada, and Hans Thiele.
“The team (last year) was overconfident and nag-set in sa kanila. But this team, we are a complete team,” said Asutria.
Austria said the Beermen have addressed their weaknesses in the post and the lack of a slasher-type of player.
“We have Gabe Freeman who can play the three, four, and even five. He is a versatile player and that’s our advantage … Brian is a big threat to the big man of our opponent. Anytime, puwede kaming small and big lineup. We are very versatile,” Austria said.
Teams will play a quadruple round-robin with the top four teams moving into the best-of-five semifinal series. The finals will also be a best-of-five.
“Here in San Miguel, we have one goal which is to bring the championship. With the imports that we have, we have a realistic chance at bringing the championship home,” said the 39-year-old Taulava.
The Beermen’s games will be aired live over ESPN through the team’s partnership with FOX International.