THE goal stays the same for the defending champions San Miguel Beermen in the PBA Governor's Cup: retain the title.
But coach Leo Austria knows it certainly won't be easy this time around as the Beermen, whose dominance has the league teetering on its heels, have yet to find their deadly form.
"I think we're not yet ready for the third conference," said Austria moments after the team's practice at the Moro Gym on Friday.
"A lot of our key players, especially the big men, are not practicing with us because of injuries."
Among his wards who were absent on Friday's practice were reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo, who is still recuperating from Gilas Pilipinas' heartbreaking ouster from the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament that foiled the country's 2016 Olympic dreams.
"I'm hoping June Mar is still in shape. I'm sure he'll be. Wala lang siya ngayon kasi talagang masakit yung pagkatalo ng Gilas and he's taking his time to reflect," said Austria of his prized slotman, who is expected to report for duty on Monday.
The other players who are still nursing injuries are Arwind Santos, Gabby Espinas, Yancy de Ocampo, and Chris Lutz.
Austria admitted he is "a little bit worried about our situation," but hopes the team gains steam in time for the season-ending conference.
"Ang one thing na na-observe ko, hindi sila gutom tulad nung hindi pa kami nananalo," he said. "That's understandable sometimes. But I'm hoping come game time, everybody will step up."
"If we play as team on both ends, at andun pa yung gutom ng team, capable itong manalo," added Austria.