Leo Austria, SMB wary of ‘more experienced’ Hotshots ahead of PBA Finals rematch
MANILA, Philippines—The PBA Philippine Cup Finals that tips off Wednesday between San Miguel Beer and Magnolia may be a rematch of last year’s championship but the two teams have not been the same since.
The Beermen now have Fil-German big man Christian Standhardinger and explosive guard Terrence Romeo in tow while the Hotshots are a more experienced bunch now compared last time.
San Miguel disposed of Magnolia in five games in their previous finals encounter but that was then and Beermen head coach Leo Austria is expecting a much improved Hotshots crew this time.
“They gained a lot of experience and by winning a championship last conference, it could help a lot for their cause,” Austria, who is aiming to steer his team to a historic fifth straight All-Filipino title, said during the 2019 Philippine Cup Finals press conference at Eastwood in Libis.
“I think we matured as a team. Last conference we won a championship and that was really big for us. The experience, the maturity of this group,” said Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero.
Magnolia believes it is more equipped now to push San Miguel to its limit after coming off a championship run in the 2018 Governors’ Cup four months ago.
Austria also said the Hotshots are the “hungrier” team heading into the title showdown.
The Beermen cause a lot of problems for the rest of the league with their size upfront and overflowing talent led by reigning five-time MVP June Mar Fajardo.
But Austria said he’s worried about Hotshots, too, with their resiliency as his biggest concern.
“They just refuse to lose and it was very evident in their last game when they were down 17 and were still able to show that they can come back. Maybe it’s because of their added experience.”