DESPITE opening the season with back-to-back wins, new San Miguel coach Leo Austria insists the Beermen are far from where he wants them to be.
Still, he’s hopeful the Beermen will sustain their good start as they collide with winless Barako Bull in the curtain raiser of the PBA Philippine Cup on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
A win by the Beermen (2-0) against the Energy in their 3 p.m. match will vault them to a share of the leadership with the Alaska Aces, who squashed the Meralco Bolts, 105-64, on Friday to start their season with three straight wins.
“We’re able to manage our endgame, though I think in the tournament, it always comes down to the last possession, kasi every team, nagpalakas eh, but our next few games will be difficult,” Austria said.
Even if the Energy opened the All-Filipino conference with losses to the Bolts (112-108 in double overtime) and the Globalport Batang Pier (91-81), Austria refused to take their opponents lightly.
“Mahirap i-take for granted ang Barako. Kumpleto sila in every position and if you let your guards down sa kanila, malamang sa hindi masilat ka,” he added.
The Beermen’s solid start have been anchored on reigning league MVP June Mar Fajardo, who is averaging 19.0 points and 12.5 rebounds in the tournament.
But San Miguel’s slew of outside gunners like Marcio Lassiter, Chris Lutz, rookie Ronald Pascual and even Ronald Tubid are also expected to provide problems for coach Koy Banal, who was thrust to his first head-coaching job since the mysterious firing of predecessor Siot Tanquingcen just before the start of the season.
“Medyo mas kailangan naming bilisan yung ball movement,” said Barako Bull veteran guard Denok Miranda, who is averaging a career-high 15.5 points, to go along with 3.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists for the Energy.
Barako Bull only had 11 assists in its 10-point loss to Globalport, while shooting just 39 percent from the floor.