Title loss to Ginebra ‘wake up call’ for San Miguel amid best-ever tag
San Miguel has received nicknames the moment it started collecting championships under head coach Leo Austria.
From being called a super team to becoming the consensus “best,” the Beermen received such accolades to back their six titles in just three years.
Austria guided the Beermen to a perfect 6-for-6 run in the finals, until they faced Barangay Ginebra in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup where their erstwhile perfect record came asunder losing 4-2 in the finals series.
Entering an unfamiliar territory, Austria couldn’t help but praise counterpart Tim Cone and what he has done to turn Ginebra around.
“It’s a very unusual feeling because we never experienced this kind of loss especially in the finals,” said Austria after their 93-77 Game 6 loss Wednesday at Mall of Asia Arena. “We’re not perfect, you win some you lose some.”
“This could serve as a wakeup call for us because of the hype, people are saying we’re a super team then all of a sudden there’s another team that’s emerging and playing better than us.”
Austria said Cone was the architect of Ginebra’s instant rise to the championship conversation as it was the league’s winningest coach that ended the Gin Kings’ eight-year long title drought.
“Ever since coach Tim coached Ginebra I knew that this time will come that we will face each other again in the championship,” said Austria whose finals record against Cone is at 1-1 after taking the 2017 Philippine Cup.
Another person Austria saw as the difference maker in his team’s series against Ginebra was the unflappable Justin Brownlee.
Ginebra’s import was magnificent for the Gin Kings as he averaged 31.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 5.83 assists, 1.67 steals, and 2.3 blocks in the series.
“I think the big factor was Brownlee, he can do it all,” said Austria. “He can play 1 through 5 and any team will have a problem matching up to him because if you put bigger guys on him he will play in the perimeter and if you put smaller guys he will play in the shaded area.”
Austria added his team’s near unstoppable three-year reign in the PBA was bound to come to an end.
“It’s hard to maintain being on top of the mountain because sooner or later you will get stormed upon, and you will fall, and it’s happening now,” said Austria in Filipino. “I know we became a little complacent, not only the players but everybody from the ball boys to the coaching staff.”
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