Leo Austria blames self for failing to adjust after SMB 'fell in love' with zone defense
Leo Austria took the blame for the San Miguel collapse but remained confident despite losing the finals opener to Magnolia: 'They have to beat us four times before they’ll be declared as champion. And fortunately, we still have time and a lot of games to bounce back.' Jerome Ascano

SAN Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria took the blame for his team’s 105-103 loss to Magnolia in Game One of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Friday night, saying he failed to adjust when the Hotshots found holes in SMB’s defense to rally from 20 points down.

Once again turning to a zone defense that worked against Ginebra and left coach Tim Cone praising him in their semifinal series that the Beermen won in five games, Austria continued to employ the defensive strategy against the Hotshots with early success.

“It’s very disappointing and frustrating. I guess na we fell in love with our defense because it gave us a lot of glory in the past few games namin,” Austria said. “But I was not able to react at the time when we needed to go back to man-to-man. And it’s my fault.”

Robbie Herndon proved to be the zone-buster that the Hotshots were looking for as the rookie wingman scored all his eight points in the final frame to contribute in their rally.

Austria also rued his failure to give his bench players more exposure as three starters (June Mar Fajardo, Alex Cabagnot, and Marcio Lassiter) played over 41 minutes, while Arwind Santos saw 39 minutes of action.

That resulted in the Hotshots outscoring the Beermen in bench points, 47-1.

“Maybe that’s the reason why we lost this game – a contribution from the points,” Austria admitted. “But I’m trying my best to give them some time, but we’re leading and then nahahabol na kami, so I have to bring back again the starters, which I think naman in the past few games, even last season ginagawa naman namin ‘to.”

“I think we have to regroup and for the players not to lose their composure,” he added. “The good thing with this is that they have to beat us four times before they’ll be declared as champion. And fortunately, we still have time and a lot of games to bounce back from this kind of game.”

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