THEY may already be past their prime, but in the eyes of coach Leo Austria, Asi Taulava and Eric Menk are both determined to turn back the hands of time and give the San Miguel Beermen an Asean Basketball League (ABL) championship.
Austria is the first person happy at how the two former PBA MVPs have been complementing each other in practice as the Beermen gear up for the fourth season of the fledgling regional league set to kick off on Friday.
“Talagang very aggressive sila at alam nila na isa sila sa mga inaasahan sa team,” Austria admitted.
The Beermen open the season against defending champion Indonesia Warriors in a rematch of last year’s Finals Friday night in Jakarta.
San Miguel is seriously bent at bouncing back after losing to the Warriors in last year’s title showdown, so much so that they lured away the 39-year-old Taulava and the 38-year-old Menk from the PBA.
Even with presence of imports Brian Williams and Gabe Freeman, Austria believes the 6-foot-9Taulava is challenged more by the prospect of proving his worth with the Beermen.
“Nacha-challenge siya. Siya ang captain ball ng team at maganda ang pinapakita niya. He wants to be the leader of this team,” said Austria.
Not to be outdone, Menk has likewise caught the fancy of the new San Miguel coach.
“Noong nag-umpisa kami, mabagal siya. Pero ngayon, he is in shape at very inspired maglaro lalo na noong hindi pa dumadating ‘yung mga imports namin,” said Austria.
Also the concurrent coach of the Adamson Falcons, Austria said Taulava and Menk are one in their belief the Beermen have what it takes to win the ABL championship this time after failing in their inaugural bid last year.
“Masaya sila nagpa-practice sa team dahil nakikita nila ‘yung potential (ng team),” said Austria, who took over the coaching job from seven-time PBA Best Import Bobby Parks.