IF defense wins championships, then Alaska is on the right track.
San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria attributed the team’s 88-82 overtime loss in Game One of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals to the Aces’ suffocating full-court defense that sparked an impressive comeback and led to an unacceptable number of turnovers by the Beermen.
“I have to give credit to the defense of Alaska, because they knew the situation they were in and a swarming defense (allowed them to rally),” Austria said as the Beermen squandered a 22-point first quarter cushion. “We have to work hard to break their press.”
That unforgiving Alaska defense forced the Beermen to commit 26 turnovers, nine more than the Aces in the opener of the best-of-seven series.
“How can you win in the championship (round) if you commit that many (turnovers)?,” Austria asked.
The Aces’ half-court defense was also a huge factor as it limited big man June Mar Fajardo to just 14 points in 47 minutes after the reigning league MVP averaged 21 markers in the semifinals.
“We weren’t able to give the ball to June Mar,” Austria said. “Yung execution namin was very bad nung middle of the second quarter up to the third quarter.”
Nevertheless, Austria believes the Beermen only have to make little adjustments to level the series.
“Composure lang ang kailangang i-adjust namin.”