Hope not lost for SMB coach
Practicality is usually best applied on anything, but not this time. Not as far as San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria is concerned.
After two deflating defeats, Austria on Tuesday night admitted that the biggest challenge for him and the rest of his coaching staff is how to keep the depleted Beermen interested as the road to repeating as Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup champions against Alaska just got rockier and longer.
“I just hope that they (Beermen) don’t get practical,” Austria told reporters after an 80-83 loss that put his Beermen in a 0-2 hole in the best-of-seven title series and left them frustrated after another near miss. “That’s my concern right now. My players might think that we don’t have a chance anymore.”
“But in the history of the best-of-seven (series in the PBA), we still have a chance even if we are 0-2 (down),” he went on. “It (winning) just got tougher.”
Game 3 is scheduled at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City, with San Miguel likely to play a third straight game without 6-foot-10 franchise player June Mar Fajardo.
Austria, though, is being practical on the Fajardo case.
“I am willing to sacrifice a championship for the sake of his health,” Austria declared during the same interview. “There will always be (PBA) championships for us to win.”
“I will not jeopardize the future of Philippine basketball, the future of the San Miguel franchise, by playing Fajardo (in Lucena) if he is still not 100% healthy,” Austria said.
Alaska pulled out victories in the first two games by playing steadier in the stretch, with the Beermen bungling four chances in the endgame on Tuesday.
“Just like in the first game (a 100-91 loss), we had a chance to beat Alaska,” Austria said. “I think it’s just the breaks of the game.”
Meanwhile, the PBA board of governors yesterday unanimously approved Phoenix Petroleum’s purchase of the Barako Bull franchise in a special meeting at the league’s offices in Libis, Quezon City.
Representatives of Phoenix Petroleum will be invited to the next regular board meet on Jan. 28. The new franchise, led by former Gilas Pilipinas forward JC Intal, can play starting with the Commissioner’s Cup on Feb. 10.
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