Austria on SMB’s Grand Slam chances: ‘It’s still a long shot’
Dominant may be an understatement when talking about a team as strong as the current San Miguel.
That means once again, the Beermen find themselves in the conversation among some of the league’s best teams which in puts pressure on them to achieve only a handful squads were able to do in the 43-year history of the PBA: win a Grand Slam.
But coach Leo Austria knows better not to get too ahead of himself, calling it a “long shot.”
It doesn’t mean that the multi-titled coach lacks confidence in what this San Miguel squad could do as the Beermen came close to attaining the rare feat last season but finished sixth in the season-ending Governors’ Cup.
“Every game is like a championship game. If that will be given to us, we will surely achieve it. But we know that for us to have a chance to get the Grand Slam, you have to work doubly hard so that you can pass the challenge that has been given to us,” he said.
What he can take pride on is how he was able to turn the page for San Miguel, which was once an all-star team that has struggled to achieve success to the juggernaut that it is right now.
“I knew that winning championships wouldn’t be easy, but I’m confident that I can change the culture of the team,” he said as he reflected on the journey the Beermen had since he assumed the post in 2014.
Since Austria’s installment as the team’s head coach, San Miguel went 6-of-6 in the championship series, with the last triumph coming this past 2018 PBA Philippine Cup.
“We now have a winning tradition that became a lifestyle for the players. We now have the heart of a champion which we banked on anytime we’re down because we know how to win,” he said.
It’s the same reason why he’s excited for what the future holds, not only for the imminent arrival of top draft pick Christian Standhardinger, but also with how the team has worked flawlessly as a singular unit.
“Ever since, this team keeps on improving and improving, and now that they have a lot of experience, that helps us and you can see that in our games. We’re winning because of our camaraderie and that led to what has been our good chemistry. As they say, ‘Iba ang may pinagsamahan.’”
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