SAN Miguel Beer governor Robert Non believes the team has finally found the right mix as far as coaching and team roster are concerned following its successful title run in the PBA Philippine Cup.
“It’s not about yung changes eh. Dahil sabi ko nga before, we try to get the right combination from coaches to the players. And then we had some trades, especially yung kay Alex (Cabagnot) and kumbaga, 'yun yung pahiyang namin until ma-prove namin na ito na, which now coach Leo (Austria) proved he can guide this team to a championship,” Non told Spin.ph.
Over the past three seasons, five coaches have come and gone for the Beermen before management decided to bring back Austria – the team’s former assistant coach - to call the shots for a team that until then had done without a league championship since the 2011 Governors Cup.
Under Austria, the Beermen became the league’s top defensive team, holding opponents to just under 77 points en route to a 13-2 record heading to the all-Filipino conference Finals.
Non said the title series obviously brought the best out of Austria, who showed he can handle the championship pressure most especially during the winner-take-all Game Seven when the Beermen were able to survive Alaska’s trademark second-half comeback after the Aces battled back from 23 points down.
“Gusto ko pasalamatan si coach Leo kasi di siya bumigay. Up to the last second of the game, nandun pa rin 'yung composure niya,” added the San Miguel executive.
Non, who joined the San Miguel franchise as team manager during the mid-90s, is hopeful the Beermen’s all-Filipino championship, their first since 2001, would translate to a renewed interest among their avid fans.
“Sa mga fans naman, nagpapasalamat ako nagbabalikan na sila. Hopefully, tuloy-tuloy na ito and we can get back all the fans na for a time, I would say, nawala. So siguro, unti-unti na uling magbabalikan yan,” added the current league vice chairman.
San Miguel players will take a much-needed break for the rest of the week before returning to practice next Monday to prepare for the team's campaign in the midseason Commissioner’s Cup.