Austria says loss to ROS a timely wake-up call as full-strength SMB girds up for playoffs
Leo Austria called the loss to ROS a timely wake-up call for San Miguel entering the playoffs. Jerome Ascano

SAN Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria believes his team’s 95-80 loss to Rain or Shine on Wednesday night served as the wake-up call the Beermen needed to get fired up in their drive for a historic fourth straight PBA Philippine Cup championship.

Coming into their last game of the eliminations with the top seed already in the bag, Austria stressed the Beermen still played to win against the E-Painters, but with the mindset of warming up returning players Alex Cabagnot and Gabby Espinas.

After all, the Beermen kept the game close in the middle quarters and were only down by four points halfway through the payoff period before seeing the E-Painters embark on a late salvo to pull away.  

“Well, as much as possible gusto namin manalo, but we lost,” Austria said. “That's maybe because I want some players to get some minutes especially for Alex Cabagnot and Gabby Espinas. They're not playing for quite long, ano. I want them to give rythm. But nag-suffer kami dito.”

Still, Austria found plenty of positives in SMB's loss.

“I think this is a wake-up call for us,” the SMB coach said. “It's a good wake up call for us dahil I'm sure with this game, we will do better in the playoffs.”

“It doesn't matter kahit galing kami sa talo kasi it's a motivation for us,” he added. “Ibig sabihin noon, hindi kami pwede mag-relax sa kalaban namin. We can't win all games. The good thing is it happened in the elimination. It didn't affect our position, we're still number one going into the quarterfinals.”

Plus, Cabagnot (30 minutes) and Espinas (17 minutes) are getting back to top shape.

“That's the reason why I want some players to have a playing time para makuha nila ang rythm nila kasi sa playoffs, where it's a different story. Back to zero ito eh,” Austria said. “Yung stats sa elims will be put into waste na. We have to focus and move forward.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos