Coach Leo Austria beamed with pride after his San Miguel Beermen took care of business in a come-from-behind 115-106 victory over Blackwater Wednesday night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at Mall of Asia Arena.
Austria was also proud of the impeccably efficient Arwind Santos, who came off the bench and conspired with Marcio Lassiter to erase the Elite’s early lead for the Beermen’s sixth win in 10 games.
Add the collective never-give-up attitude of four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo, Alex Cabagnot and import Renaldo Balkman and the reigning PBA coach of the year has little reason to worry about the coming playoffs.
“We always respect the team that we play against by not taking things lightly,” said Austria. “We will maintain the same kind of focus now that the playoffs are near.”
They have to employ a similar attitude when the Beermen wrap up their elimination-round campaign against the Magnolia Hotshots on Saturday.
Both teams will go into that game on the wings of victories after Magnolia trashed NLEX, 116-89, in the second game.
“With this win, we’re still in the hunt for the No. 3 to No. 6 spots in the quarterfinals. But a defeat against Magnolia could pull us down to seventh place, depending on the outcome of the GlobalPort-Ginebra game,” said Austria.
The Batang Pier are one of the few squads that upset the Beermen and a GlobalPort victory over the Gin Kings coupled with a San Miguel loss will be costly for Austria and his troops.
Ending up at seventh or eighth after the elimination round would mean needing to beat the top two teams in the quarterfinals twice to advance to the semifinals.
Teams finishing third to sixth will figure in a best-of-three series before moving over to the next round.
“Our next game will determine our fate in the playoffs. Just like this one (against Blackwater), we vow not to be complacent,” said Austria.
Santos finished with 23 points to lead San Miguel.
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