Despite winning via big margin in Game 4, San Miguel coach Leo Austria wants his players to stay focused and not look too far ahead of themselves as they head into Game 5 versus TNT in their best-of-seven semifinals showdown in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Losing via 98-115 rout in Game 3 brought down the morale of the Beermen as per Austria. According to him, they were embarrassed with the lopsided loss and were not able to sleep properly because of that.
That’s why the team approached Game 4 with a different mindset and it resulted in a morale-boosting 26-point victory to equalize the series at 2 games apiece. That game was different since the Beermen were able to dominate from the start to finish, unlike the previous three matches.
“We realized na there’s no tomorrow, if we lose, 3-1, it’s very hard to recover, especially if you’re up against a very organized and very disciplined team like Talk N Text — well-coached team. If you noticed, in the past few games namin against Talk ‘N Text, it was always in a catch-up situation. But we want to have this good start, which happened today,” said the 8-time PBA champion mentor.
Austria also mentioned that it was the players who realized that they need to attack the paint and the interior defense of Troy Rosario and JP Erram who combined for five fouls in the first quarter alone. Also evident was how the Beermen were able to minimize their turnovers – a category that the Tropang Giga was able to capitalize in the series.
“The key for them in our two losses were our turnovers. Imagine if you lose twenty-nine points off turnovers, and twenty-seven points on second-chance points, you have no chance to win,” said the 63-year-old coach from Sariaya, Quezon.
But despite the near perfect game from his players, Austria wants his wards to remain focused and take it one game at a time. He believes that TNT is very capable of regaining control of the series.
“Like what happened noong second game, we won and tied the series. They came out really big. The momentum is not noticeable in this game. They won the other night, but we won the next game. So it’s a matter of how we adjust. There’s a lot of adjustment. Let’s see what we can do. They have to keep grounded and not celebrate this big win for us. Instead, think of something that could help us again in our next game,” the SMB bench tactician concluded.