Austria not worried about ‘confident’ Beermen despite long break
MANILA, Philippines — San Miguel hasn’t played in around six months, but that doesn’t mean the reigning PBA Philippine Cup champion’s confidence has dipped throughout the long hiatus.
Head coach Leo Austria said the Beermen’s impressive 94-78 win over fellow powerhouse Magnolia last March still has the team riding high.
San Miguel just had its first practice the past week after the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases allowed professional basketball and football teams to resume training albeit in a limited capacity as long as strict health protocols are observed.
“Here in San Miguel everyone’s expecting us to be the champion again because that’s what the supporters have been used to,” said Austria in Filipino in a Zoom conversation with Inquirer Sunday.
The Beermen, winner of five straight Philippine Cups, beat the Hotshots in the season opener—the only game played before the shutdown—without their six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo but got valued production from Moala Tautuaa, who put up 20 points and 11 rebounds.
“We didn’t have June Mar in the lineup but we were confident with what happened because now people can see that we have different loops on how we play and we played well with it. That gave us a lot of confidence.”
Austria is also not too worried about his players as far as their conditioning and in what shape they’re in are concerned.
To follow the IATF’s regulations during training, San Miguel divided its players into four groups—shooters, point guards, centers, and forwards.
“What I’ve noticed is that the players didn’t gain weight but they lost some muscle. But they kept their weight in check that’s why they didn’t gain some pounds,” said Austria. “Workouts are still limited and I know that they’ll eventually maintain their conditioning when they continue their practices.”
“The next few weeks they’ll regain their muscle. Slowly but surely they’ll return to their game shape.”
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