Leo Austria defends free-agent signings, blames lack of chemistry for SMB’s early exit

Meralco made short work of San Miguel in the quarterfinal round of the 2021 PBA Governors’ Cup.

The Bolts, holders of a twice-to-beat advantage, led by as many as 21 and cruised to a 15-point win over the Beermen in their quarterfinals match-up last Friday to secure a return trip to the final four of the season-ending conference where they’ll face the top-seeded Magnolia Hotshots.

Not a few were surprised though as the Leo Austria-mentored squad was expected to give the MVP-owned franchise a tough time following SMB’s scintillating come-from-behind win over the Bolts to close the elimination round.

“I have no words to say regarding the game. I’m really frustrated because everybody is expecting us to do well. But we fell short of one game to get into the semifinals,” said Austria after his team’s shocking early elimination.

“We really want to get to the semifinals because it’s a series and we’ll start getting our rhythm and chemistry. It seems that chemistry is lacking in the team,” he added.

Shabazz Muhammad, the team’s highly touted reinforcement, dropped 57 big points during their previous meeting but was held to a pedestrian 24 in the all-important tussle. He converted only 8 out of 19 attempts, including 0 of 6 from long distance, and finished with a game-high 5 turnovers.

Despite the disappointing ending, Austria believes that things will be better once chemistry sets it.

“I know that those players can help the team. I don’t know the effect but I love them in the team. It’s a matter of time. I think ‘yung time ang kulang for us to be a very cohesive team,” explained Austria in reference to new recruits Rodney Brondial and Jericho Cruz.

“If you think about the team, it’s almost complete. It’s a matter of time to get good chemistry. The mainstays, they tried to embrace (the new players), and the new players tried to adjust.”

“Nasa adjustment period, and sometimes, ‘yun ang epekto kasi everybody wants to be nice with their teammates,” he added.

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