Coach Leo Austria urges San Miguel to stop waiting for Fajardo return
Coach Leo Austria hopes the Beermen would find a way to win even when "there's no more (June Mar) Fajardo to rely on." Jerome Ascano

SAN Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria is hoping his wards would finally get used to playing without June Mar Fajardo as the Beermen aim for a first victory in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals against Alaska on Friday at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena.

While there’s still a chance the injured Fajardo could make even just cameo late in the best-of-seven series, Austria is urging his wards to play like the reigning league MVP would not return.

“This team can recover if their frame of mind will be set on us being capable of beating any team even though we don’t have Fajardo,” the SMB coach said.

“I’m sure if we had June Mar Fajardo, it would be a different story, but there’s no more Fajardo to rely on,” he added.

[See Will Fajardo do a Willis Reed? SMB giant says he will suit up in Game 4]

The Beermen turned to their depth as they built a double-digit lead in the series opener and kept threatening in Game Two before surrendering in both games.

That’s all Austria is asking for from his shorthanded squad, now spearheaded by Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, and Arwind Santos.

“Whatever happens, manalo o matalo, what we want to see is keep on fighting back despite our handicap.”

But that doesn’t mean they’re giving up – not by any means.

“The story is not yet finished,” Austria stressed. “There might be another turnaround. As long as there’s a chance to win, hindi kami mawawalan ng pag-asa.”

Whether or not the Beermen pull a game back will be known in the out-of-town game that tips off at 7 p.m. 

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos