SAN Miguel coach Leo Austria took full responsibility of the team’s latest heartbreaker of a loss against Alaska in this PBA Philippine Cup finals.
But at the same time, Austria admitted he can only do so much as he criticized the Beermen for again losing their focus in a 78-70 loss against the Aces in Game Three of the best-of-seven title series Sunday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
“This is my fault. I was not able to control the game,” said the soft-spoken mentor in the post-game interview. “But I’m not the one playing inside the court. All I can do is to remind them of what to do.”
The Beermen held a 61-40 lead late in the third quarter and a 64-46 edge entering the fourth quarter, before Alaska masterminded yet another classic comeback to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The come-from-behind win fashioned out by the Aces before a crowd of 13,785 easily brought to mind the similar feat Alaska made in the series opener when it rallied from a 22-point first quarter deficit to win the match in overtime, 88-82.
Austria lamented how the Beermen committed the same mistake again that cost them the game.
“On our part we panicked especially the players. We committed a lot of turnovers,” said the soft-spoken coach.
The Beermen committed just 17 turnovers -- their lowest in the Finals so far – but six of them came in the fourth quarter, the same stretch when Alaska went on a rampage and didn’t have a single error.
“We lost because of a lot of turnovers in the fourth quarter. It’s beyond my control of what happened (in the 4th), because I thought all the while we prepared hard, we know the situation,” said Austria.
“We know what they’re doing, we know what we’re doing, and we know what kind of plays we’re going to run. But inside the court, I can’t control them anymore.”
The San Miguel coach refused to single out any player who came short of his expectations, but lamented the fact the Beermen again failed to pound the ball inside to big man June Mar Fajardo.
“We’re trying to get June Mar the ball in the shaded area, but it didn’t get there,” he said.
Still, Austria believes the series is not yet over and knows San Miguel can bounce back from a second sorry loss in the finals.
“This is a long series. We’re capable of winning three or four consecutive (games). We displayed it against the team we beat in the semifinals,” said Austria, obviously referring to Talk `N Text which the Beermen swept in the best-of-seven semis.
“So the potential is there. It’s up to us,” he added