Leo Austria hopes to fire up stagnant SMB: 'They thought na talent alone will give us the grand slam'
SMB coach Leo Austria gave credit to Ginebra but pointed out that his wards also got complacent. Jerome Ascano

SAN Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria feels his team fell a bit complacent after ruling the first two conferences this season PBA season on the way to kissing their grand slam aspirations goodbye on Wednesday night.

Austria didn’t take anything away from the Gin Kings after they put on a masterful performance against the Beermen en route to a 104-84 decision in their quarterfinal matchup on Wednesday night.

But the SMB coach feels his team’s sluggish showing in the blowout defeat was reflective of their diminished sense of urgency.

“We're surprised and I have to give credit to Ginebra because they came out really hungry and then well-prepared,” Austria said after the game. “Maybe because of the last two championships, naging stagnant yung performance namin and I told them na we have to learn our lesson. Dahil next season, it will be a different ballgame.”

“The team is really, medyo naging kampante,” he added. “They thought na talent alone will give us the grand slam. I keep on telling them na we have to work hard.”

Austria, though, knows where his proud wards are coming from, although insisting he didn’t lack in reminding them to stay on their toes in a conference where the rest of the field has bolstered their lineups in their bid to topple them.

“It’s human nature eh,” the veteran coach said. “Sometimes when you're on top, you have the tendency to relax and that's the thing that caught up eh.”

“Before we know it, everything, there's a lot of trades, there's a lot of happening in the team, nag-build up so they're catching up,” he added. “Then I keep on telling the players what's happening in the PBA, that's why I'm telling them I'm really a little bit worried dito sa conference na ito.”

Despite their psychological lapses, the Beermen still managed to put up a solid eliminations campaign with seven wins in 11 games and just losing out on a Top Four berth due to quotient.  

The Beermen lost to Star, NLEX, Alaska, and Meralco in the regular season – if they had won even just one of those games, Austria feels it would’ve made a world of difference.

“We're one game short and actually, we lost in the quotient eh,” Austria said. “And probably those things complicated our quest to get into the Final Four, because I believe if we're in the Top Four, the confidence is really high and we'll be pitted against another team, not Ginebra.”

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“Imagine if we lost today, if we have another game, we'll know what to do,” he added, wondering if they owned a twice-to-beat advantage.

For now, the rare early vacation starts for the still-formidable Beermen before they get back on the grind for a record fourth title defense of the Philippine Cup.

“We want to improve a lot and change strategy, change gameplan, and change the training, and still, I believe this team can win another championship through hard work,”Austria said.

“I told them during the last huddle that we should be proud of our team dahil this season, we’re still the great team, dahil two out of three (titles) is not bad,” he added.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos