Dealing with pressure to win nothing new to Austria
SMART CLARK GIGA CITY—Leo Austria says he’s been eating pressure for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the past seven or so Philippine Basketball Association seasons now, and that dealing with whatever is going on inside the bubble does not faze him one bit.
“Since Day One of coaching San Miguel, I’ve always been pressured to win,” he told reporters here on the heels of an 81-66 victory over sister team Barangay Ginebra that kept the Beermen’s title-retention bid intact in this extraordinary Philippine Cup. “I’m OK with the pressure we’re experiencing.”
That game was a virtual must-win for the Beermen in order to have a shot at avoiding being left in the lower half of playoff qualifiers that would require beating a formidable foe two straight times in the first round of the playoffs.
“We would have been on the brink of elimination if we lost that game,” said Austria, whose charges improved to 6-4 and will close out with another must-win game against nothing-to-lose NorthPort on Tuesday.
Austria said that “having pressure is a good challenge,” and that it keeps him “thinking how to be better.”
Cone debunks conspiracies
With a win against the Batang Pier, the Beermen will finish with a 7-4 record that would be good for at least a tie for fourth spot with multiple teams, counting another sister squad in Magnolia.
And that seems to be the reason why Ginebra coach Tim Cone said, also on Sunday, said that “it doesn’t make sense to us (Gin Kings)” why they would play half-heartedly against the Beermen—as they have been accused of by fans on social media.
“I’m aware of the conspiracy theories that are starting to crop up,” Cone said shortly after returning to Quest hotel that night. “It certainly seemed that way—it certainly seemed we’re letting [San Miguel] have it. But I assure you, I know I want to beat San Miguel more than anybody.”
The league’s winningest coach and the only man to score two Triple Crown sweeps said he was playing a delicate balance between trying to mount a last-ditch effort to win against the Beermen or save his wards for their last game of the eliminations.
“[The] bottom line is … we’re just trying to think big picture here, [which] is we make such a huge effort trying to come back to that game with our key players and then we turn around try to play [Terrafirma on Monday] and risk losing that game because we’re tired?
“It doesn’t make sense for us,” Cone said.
The scenarios for everyone seem to truly be complicated at this point, although the Kings have an inside track at the No. 1 spot should they win over the Dyip in a game going on at press time.
But one thing is certain, at least for Austria, is that the pressure will never let up from hereon, and will only end if a sixth straight title is put in the bag or they stumble trying to do it. INQ
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