San Miguel Beer looks to finally shake off 'hangover' in battle of winless squads
Coach Leo Austria and his assistants try to solve the Beermen's woes as they continue to endure a championship hangover. Jerome Ascano

POWERHOUSE San Miguel Beer looks to stop the bleeding while expansion team Blackwater hopes to take advantage of the recently-crowned champions’ struggles and end their own slump when the two sides clash on Wednesday in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Beermen, just two-and-a-half weeks removed from winning the Philippine Cup championship, opened the mid-season, import-laden conference with a shocking loss to KIA Motors (88-78), before bowing to Barangay Ginebra on Sunday, 96-82.

On the other hand, the Elite lost their first three games by an average margin of 14.6 points, bowing to Barako Bull (92-70), Talk ‘N Text (88-78) and defending champion Purefoods Star (98-86).

Coach Leo Austria admitted that San Miguel has been struggling to get back to battle mode after the title run in the All-Filipino conference.

“Before, from start to finish (in the Philippine Cup), talagang fluid ang execution ng plays. But now, everybody’s trying to adjust dun sa atmosphere ng pagiging champion and yung pagkakaroon ng import,” Austria said.

The match starts at 4:15 p.m.

The 56-year-old San Miguel coach isn’t pinning the blame on 24-year-old import Ronald Roberts, who despite being given a very short time to adjust to his new team, managed to post decent numbers of 25.0 points, 18.0 rebounds and 3.5 blocks for the Beermen.

“With how our import played (against Ginebra), there are positives,” noted Austria, who captured his first PBA title as a coach last conference.

“Makikita niyo na talagang on both sides of the court, talagang nagtatrabaho siya (Roberts). That’s something na kailangan i-capitalize namin.”

Roberts, however, may have his hands full defending Blackwater’s Marcus Douthit, who will continue to play in place of Chris Charles, who is out with a hamstring injury.

Blackwater, meanwhile, is trying to avoid making it to the unpleasant section of the PBA record books.

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The Elite have lost their last 14 games dating back to the Philippine Cup and are in danger of tying Welcoat (now Rain or Shine) for the third longest losing streak in a season at 15.

Welcoat registered the 15-game losing streak during the 2007-08 PBA season.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @richava