SAN Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria said match-up problems kept him from using star forward Arwind Santos extensively against Barangay Ginebra in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup game on Sunday.
Santos, hero of the Beermen's Philippine Cup title run, came off the bench behind import Ronald Roberts Jr., who started at the power forward spot and teamed up with center June Mar Fajardo at the frontline.
Playing just 18 minutes, the former league MVP had a measly six points as he missed 10 of 13 shots, including all four from three-point territory, and had only three boards, one steal, and one block.
The Finals MVP is now 0-of-14 from three-point territory in the midseason conference.
Asked about Santos' limited minutes in the 82-95 loss to Ginebra, Austria said he had no choice but go with the 6-8 Roberts and the 6-10 Fajardo to match up against the Kings' Michael Dunigan and Greg Slaughter.
Ginebra pounced on the mismatch each time he fielded Santos in at the 4 spot, Austria added.
“With the presence of big men on our opponents, hindi ko pwedeng isabay si Arwind dun,” Austria explained. “It seems na they’re taking advantage of their height if ever Arwind would be on the floor.”
The newly minted champion coach also said sliding Santos down to the small-forward spot wasn't effective because the former FEU star is no longer used to playing in that position.
“But our opponent is trying to attack him at his position, that’s why we can’t afford to let him play long minutes against those big men,” he said. “Ang ginagawa ko nilalagay ko siya sa three position, but affected yung flow nung execution dahil hindi pa siya sanay dun.”
Austria admitted he isn't comfortable putting Santos back in his natural 4 position for the Beermen's next game against Blackwater, but promised to find a way to do so in the future.
“Siguro in the next few games after Blackwater, wala na silang malalaking player, Arwind can play at the four,” he said.
Austria admitted he needs to do a better job with his player rotation, not only to maximize the skills of Roberts but also to avoid leaving out players who deserve to play.
“Affected ang playing time ng maraming player (so) I need to adjust," said the San Miguel coach. "Usually 'yung mga gumagawa, hindi na nabibigyan ng time.
“With how our import played, there are positives. Makikita niyo na talagang on both sides of the court, talagang nagtatrabaho siya. That’s something na kailangan i-capitalize namin.
“Our import is slowly adjusting to the brand of game we have.”