WITH Alaska's defense focused on stopping June Mar Fajardo, San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria said Arwind Santos need to step up if the Beermen hope to level the PBA Philippine Cup Finals in Game Two on Friday.
“We wanted to get the ball to June Mar (Fajardo), but we cannot get him the ball because of the pressure defense, even the weak side, they cannot get ball, all of sudden the shot clock winds down, nagpa-panic na,” said Austria, a day after the Beermen lost the series opener in overtime, 82-88.
"We have to adjust on that kind of situation," he added.
Austria issued a challenge to both Santos and Cabagnot, who faded in the endgame when Alaska completed a courageous fightback from a 22-point deficit behind a swarming defense that limited the 6-10 Fajardo to just nine shots in Game One.
Santos led the charge for the Beermen in the first quarter behind two three-pointers and and five field goals, but began to hesitate at crunchtime.
On the other hand, Cabagnot, hero of the semifinal series against Talk 'N Text, Cabagnot also disappeared in the payoff period which was dominated by Alaska backcourt stars JV Casio, Dondon Hontiveros and rookie Chris Banchero.
“We have Cabagnot, we have Arwind and we have Chris Lutz and Marcio (Lassiter), but it was only Chris Lutz who shone sa Game One. Hindi kakayanin kung si Chris Lutz lang,” said Austria.
“Kailangang mag-perform itong si Arwind and even Cabagnot, kailangang mag bounce back sila, hindi pwedeng ganun laro niya dito sa finals. Si June Mar, understable eh. Kasi yung defense nasa kanya,” he added.
Austria also took a dig at game officials especially for a 22-minute stretch where Alaska wasn't called a single foul in the series opener.
“Ang nakakagulat talaga dun, hindi kami tinatawagan ng foul, imagine 22 minutes without foul (from Alaska)… I think that’s perfect defense,” he said with a sarcastic laugh.
“June Mar was not able to get the ball inside the shaded area because of the swarming defense. They were pushing him, but no foul,” he added. “Almost perfect talaga ang defense ng Alaska. Kita mo 22 minutes wala silang foul. That is so perfect, di ba?”
Austria clarified he is not blaming anyone for the loss, something he already pointed out to the team during their practice a day before Game Two which is set on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Na-i-point out ko na sa kanila kung ano nangyari, but I don’t blame them, because ang talo ng isang team, eh talo naming lahat. Ang panalo, panalo naming lahat,” he said.
“I just wanted them to do their roles, we will challenge them, as far as motivation is concerned, well motivated naman sila from the management to the coaching staff,” he added.
Listen to podcast of full interview with Leo Austria: