SAN Miguel Beer may have whipped Talk `N Text by 23 points in the opener of the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series, but that doesn’t mean the Beermen will cruise to another win when the two teams meet again Sunday for Game Two.
Coach Leo Austria expects a strong fight back from the Tropang Texters in the 5 p.m. duel at the Mall of Asia Arena, well aware the proud franchise wont’ take sitting down its 109-86 loss against the Beermen in Friday’s Game One.
“We know Talk ‘N Text is a strong team which had a six-game run. But I respect Talk ‘N Text because they are composed of a lot of experienced players like Ranidel (De Ocampo), Jayson Castro, and (Jimmy) Alapag. So a lot of them have experience in the championship,” said Austria, whose team eyes a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Austria admitted the team’s huge victory had a lot to do with man-mountain center June Mar Fajardo’s domination inside, even though the Beermen also drew big numbers from Arwind Santos and reacquired playmaker Alex Cabagnot.
“I actually expected them (Tropang Texters) to do a lot of things to prevent June Mar from getting the ball in the shaded area because in our first game, he had a hard time getting his shots inside,” said Austria.
“But my boys are trying to salvage this run (in the playoffs) because they know the importance of winning the first game (of the semifinals).”
Meantime, Talk ‘N Text coach Jong Uichico said Cabagnot’s presence spelled the difference for the Beermen in Game 1.
“It’s a big turnaround with Cabagnot in the game for them (Beermen) and we got our ass kicked,” said Uichico.
“We knew that we will struggle a little bit, because one is, we’ve played consecutive hard games and they’ve had a time to rest.”
Talk ‘N Text actually played its fifth game in 16 days during the series opener, including two quarterfinals games the past five days against Barako Bull and Barangay Ginebra, respectively.
“But it’s (fatigue) not an excuse, especially for this kind of game that we’re in the semis. We just have to come back on Sunday. That’s a series naman, that’s the way it is,” he said.
“You play one bad game, you have to play good the next.”