Complacency cost us game – Austria
San Miguel Beer Coach Leo Austria blamed the team’s complacency as one of the reasons why they fell to Alaska in Game 3 of their PBA Philippine Cup finals series despite leading by as many as 21 points a with a little more than a quarter left in the game.
The result was a 78-70 loss and a 1-2 deficit against a team that many believed would suffer the same fate as Talk ‘N Text which SMB swept, 4-0, in the semifinals.
Austria also said their shot selection in the final quarter was poor while at same time, the Aces were making their baskets.
“That was our problem in the fourth quarter of Game 3, shot selection,” said Austria. “We also played complacent after leading by 21 points in the third quarter. So these are the things we hope to improve on.”
Austria also admitted that their insistence on their 6-10 center June Mar Fajardo have the ball on crucial occasions backfired as Alaska anticipated this tactic.
Through three games of the best-of-seven series, the reigning Most Valuable Player is not making that many attempts at the post. He has been limited to an average of nine per game as compared to nearly 15 during the elimination round and the semifinals.
With his attempts down, Fajardo’s point-production also dipped from 18.6 during the first 15 games of the conference to 14 in the title series
Alaska’s suffocating defense that shackled the SMB behemoth is part of the reason, and according to SMB coach Leo Austria, he had expected that to happen since they are in the finals.
“This is the championship, so we expected that his attempts will be limited. But we’re trying to find ways to give him the ball, it’s just unfortunate that every time we do that, we ended up committing turnovers,” said Austria.
“We also have to give credit to Alaska’s defense. But I don’t think it’s a question of June Mar getting touches or getting the ball. It’s not the problem, we always look for June Mar,” added Austria.
Alaska’s big men made up of 6-foot-7 Sonny Thoss, 6-foot-6 Eric Menk and 6-foot-8 Sam Eman alternated guarding Fajardo.
The second and third coverage to complete a triple-team came from Calvin Abueva, Tony dela Cruz, Cyrus Baguio, Dondon Hontiveros, JVee Casio, Chris Banchero, RJ Jazul and Chris Exciminiano.
Alaska was down by 21 points (61-40) late in the third quarter of Game 3 last Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
When the Aces finally got the lead late in the fourth, SMB attempted to put the ball in Fajardo’s hands but at least three attempts were intercepted by Alaska.
Meantime, San Miguel Beer forward Arwind Santos said players should avoid blaming one another for the loss and should keep trusting each other.
“Hindi ko alam kung saan ako magsisimula,” he said. “Dapat wag kong alisin yung tiwala ko sa mga kasama ko dito sa team namin. Ganun talaga. Ayoko na tignan yung bad side ng nangyari. Doon ako sa good side.”
Santos, who sustained another cut in the right eyebrow from a wayward Calvin Abueva arm in the first half of Game 3.
SMB’s 6-foot-10 center June Mar Fajardo was equally frustrated.
Assessing the loss, he said his team played Alaska’s game instead of playing their own.
“Talo eh. Nakakalungkot lang. Ewan ko kung ano ang nangyari,” he said. “Nakipagsabayan kami sa game nila eh. Dapat binagalan namin yung game kasi lamang kami ng malaki.”
“Nakakafrustrate din. Sayang lang. Kami lang din ang nagpatalo,” added the reigning MVP Fajardo who is looking for his first PBA title.
“Bukas, may mga adjustment naman kaming gagawin. Tignan natin dun,” said Fajardo.
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