Blown leads cause for concern for SMB coach Austria
ANTIPOLO — Knowing how strong San Miguel is, it’s almost a given that the defending three-time Philippine Cup champion will race up the scoreboard and gain a large lead, as evidenced by its first two games this conference.
Preserving that lead, however, is another story.
That’s what coach Leo Austria is trying to figure out as he hopes that there won’t be any more letups for the Beermen once the new year rings.
“I’m so very curious about this. That’s the tendency of the players usually. It’s human nature. Sometimes, you’re leading and you’re playing well in the first half and they think that it’s going to be an easy ride going to the last minute of the fourth quarter. But that’s not always going to be the case,” he said.
San Miguel erected double-digit leads in their first two games this conference, taking a 19-point lead in its opener against Phoenix last week and this time, grabbing a 22-point advantage against Meralco on Wednesday.
Both times, however, the Beermen blew those leads before holding on to win in the end.
And that’s the reason why Austria specifically pointed out the game against the Bolts as a “tough test” for his team, knowing how good Meralco is especially with coach Norman Black calling the shots.
“If you remember their first game against Blackwater, they were down by 14 points and all of a sudden in the second half, they were able to come back. It almost happened tonight too,” he said moments after San Miguel’s 103-97 win over Meralco at Ynares Center here.
“It’s a good lesson for us and it’s a good test because if you’re up against a team with a great coach in coach Norman, you cannot rest until the buzzer sounds at the end of the game.”
Austria is hopeful that these tests would serve as valuable lessons for his team in the long run as they continue their quest for a fourth straight all-Filipino title.
“Right now, I’m trying to maximize our potential and with our first two games, we keep on learning. We know our strengths and our weaknesses and in tonight’s game, we saw what our weaknesses are which was exploited by coach Norman. Fortunately, the players really wanted to win,” he said.
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