MANILA, Philippines – San Miguel head coach Leo Austria admitted that their huge first quarter lead against Rain or Shine in Game 1 of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals series was more of a curse than a blessing for the Beermen.
San Miguel raced to a fast start, making 10 of their 19 field goals in the first period and leading by as much as 18 points. They led 33-17 at the end of the frame; import Tyler Wilkerson alone had 20 points to outscore the entire Rain or Shine team.
They would be unable to hold on to their lead, however. Rain or Shine trailed by just 10, 40-50, at the half, and the Elasto Painters completed their comeback when Jeff Chan drilled the go-ahead triple with just over a minute left.
“Sabi ko, kailangang magkaroon [sila] ng sense of urgency,” Austria told reporters a couple of hours after the game. “Everything na ginagawa namin, dapat ibigay ang effort. Kanina, hindi playoff game ang laro nila, especially after lumamang kami.”
“Noong lumamang kami ng first quarter, I think that’s the culprit eh,” he admitted. “Nagkaroon ng tendency to relax. They thought na kayang-kaya ito, because they cannot stop June Mar (Fajardo) and they cannot stop Tyler (Wilkerson).”
San Miguel was still ahead, 94-92, with under two minutes left following a Fajardo bucket inside the lane, but a defensive breakdown led to Chan being left wide open from beyond the arc for what turned out to be the game-winner.
The Beermen squandered their subsequent chances to take the lead, with Marcio Lassiter and Arwind Santos bricking potential go-ahead triples. Rain or Shine won, 98-94, for a 1-0 lead.
“It turned out na execution is our problem,” Austria said. “Everything that happened in the game, we knew it, but some of the players did not have the courage to do it from start to finish.”
Austria said that after taking a big lead, the Beermen slacked off on both ends of the floor, and he issued a warning to the team at halftime that Rain or Shine is capable of mounting huge comebacks – something they showed against Ginebra in the quarterfinals.
The Beermen failed to execute their game plan on defense, getting torched again and again by Rain or Shine on pick-and-roll plays, much to the dismay of Austria who stressed that this was something they worked on in practice.
Austria does believe that San Miguel does not need to make a lot of adjustments for Tuesday’s Game 2, however.
“I told them we need a little bit of discipline and a sense of urgency,” Austria said. “‘Yun ang kailangan. There’s no big adjustment needed. We have to do our game plan, both on offense and defense.”
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.