SAN Miguel coach Leo Austria admitted the team's slow start in the PBA Governors’ Cup weighed down the Beermen's bid for a third straight finals appearance this season.
The Beermen bowed out at the quarterfinal stage after a 96-85 loss to Alaska on Wednesday night, a horrific end to a campaign that saw the powerhouse side lose five of their first six games.
San Miguel won five straight games to clinch a berth in the quarterfinals despite an injury to four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo that kept him for most of the eliminations, but fell flat in the playoffs.
Aside from Fajardo's injury, Austria said the Beermen didn’t have ideal preparation for the conference with Christian Standhardinger, Alex Cabagnot, and Marcio Lassiter on loan to the national team.
“It’s not only the injury of June Mar. We were struggling at the start of the conference because we had three players in the national team … There came at a time that we are practicing with seven or eight players. It’s not an excuse but it gave some impact in our preparation,” said Austria.
While the Beermen regained their bearings midway thorugh the eliminations, Austria said missing out on a twice-to-beat advantage was also huge setback for the team.
“We were relegated to a twice-to-beat disadvantage … It’s really important to get that top four especially in the third conference. This time, it’s always a knockout game for us,” said Austria.
Despite the defeat, Austria said he is still proud of what the Beermen have accomplished over the past four seasons.
“I think everybody was expecting us na we will get into the next round but we failed to do it. Congratulations to Alaska. That’s basketball eh. You win some, you lose some," said the multi-titled coach.
"I’m still proud of my players. Last four years, 12 conferences,, we’ve been in the finals seven times and won six championships. I think we have nothing to be ashamed of.”