Beermen confident but cautious as they start title bid against dangerous Carnival
Kia coach Chito Victolero looks to score another surprise, but SMB mentor Leo Austria is out to prevent it. Jerome Ascano

COACH Leo Austria is convinced the San Miguel Beermen are now “on the same page” after a disjointed showing in the previous conference, and hope for a good start in the Governors’ Cup when they battle the Kia Carnival on Wednesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“I don’t want us to be complacent, but I know this team is capable of winning another championship,” Austria declared.

“It depends on how we perform. It’s fortunate nagka-time kami magkasama-sama at na-address namin yung kakulangan sa conditioning so right now, everyone’s on the same page,” he added.

After capturing the franchise’s first All-Filipino crown, San Miguel struggled throughout the Commissioner’s Cup, tumbling out with a 4-7 win-loss record.

Since the ouster, the Beermen have regrouped, and Austria said they have been working on conditioning while Arizona Reid studied the team’s system.

Austria and the Beermen take on a Carnival side that is without injured playing coach Manny Pacquiao in the 7 p.m. match.

The Beermen won’t take things easy, because the Carnival had pulled off a giant 78-68 win over the Beermen during their Commissioner’s Cup encounter.

KIA then had, hulking Puerto Rican import Peter John Ramos, who went on to average gigantic numbers of 35.9 points and 21 rebounds for the Carnival, and now parade Senegalese 7-footer Hamady Barro N'Diaye, a noted shot-blocker and rebounder.

“He’s (N’Diaye) a more versatile player. Can score on offense and play defense, pero alam din naman namin si PJ naman is powerful inside and unstoppable sa post,” said lead assistant coach Chito Victolero, who guided the Carnival to a 4-7 record last conference.

N’Diaye may not be a high-scoring import, but Victolero believes Taiwanese import Chang Tsung-hsien, known internationally as Jet Chang, along with locals LA Revilla, JR Cawaling, JR Buensuceso, Leo Avenido and newly-acquired Jason Deutchman can carry the scoring load.

“Iyung locals namin, they are also very active and they have the confidence to shoot.  We’re very positive naman na magkakatulungan na sila with our import,” he added.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava