SAN Miguel coach Leo Austria admits feeling ‘a little pressure’ after the Beermen ended up as the last team under the San Miguel Corp. umbrella left to fight for a finals berth in the PBA Governors Cup.
Following the successive elimination of sister teams Barangay Ginebra and Star, Austria said he’s aware of the burden of trying to keep the company’s winning tradition burning.
“Syempre, nag-aalala ka. Dahil nung natalo yung Star Hotshots, they’re (SMC bosses) expecting us to win the finals (berth). We’re the only team of San Miguel na naiwan,” said Austria, the man personally handpicked by no less than San Miguel big boss Ramon S. Ang to handle the team starting last season.
Austria was quick to nod when asked if sustaining San Miguel’s rich, winning tradition was the challenge he made to the Beermen on their way to taking a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five semifinals series with Rain or Shine.
“Hindi mo na kailangang banggitin sa kanila 'yun (players). Napag-uusapan namin 'yun. Hindi na kailangang ipang-motivate yun, dahil alam nila yun eh,” he said.
“Sa coaching, pinag-usapan namin 'yun (kami na lang natitira among SMC teams),” he added.
But the San Miguel coach, a former Rookie of the Year honoree, said he himself overheard his players discussing the matter by themselves.
“Sa players, alam na nila yun. Pinag-uusapan nga nila yun (sa dugout). ‘Tayo na lang natitira dito. This is our opportunity to be one of the favorites (of the company bosses),” Austria said.
The soft-spoken coach said he will not allow the pressure get the better of the Beermen, who are up against a scrappy Rain or Shine side.
“Ang pressure na lang siguro sa amin ngayon is, we want to win. Not because na baka matalo kami kasi kami na lang ang last team rito ng San Miguel,” he said.
“(Dapat) kami ang may pinakamagandang nilaro sa mga San Miguel teams. Whatever happens, we should be proud of our team,” said the former PBA shooting guard.
Although the semis series with the Elasto Painters is not yet over, Austria admitted he’s already reviewing previous games of early finalist Alaska.
“Twice ko pinanuod yung Game Three ng Alaska at Star. Dahil I am trying to develop something para kung kami man ang lumaban sa kanila, I know what to do because we will not have enough time to prepare against them (Aces), kung papasok kami (sa finals),” he said.
But make no mistake about it, Austria insisted he is not yet thinking too far ahead nor is he looking past Rain or Shine.
“It should be that way. Hindi ko naman nakakalimutan yung game namin against Rain or Shine.”