For the first time this season, the San Miguel Beermen will head into the playoffs as the underdogs.
After losing out on a playoff incentive, the reigning Philippine and Commissioner’s Cup champions are about to face defending Governors’ Cup champions Barangay Ginebra in the quarterfinals, set to begin on Wednesday, September 27.
But San Miguel head coach Leo Austria remains unfazed, even if they will face a Ginebra side armed with a win-once incentive.
“Twice-to-beat sila, but we’ll try our best,” said Austria, moments after the Beermen collapsed and lost to Meralco Bolts, 101-104, at the SMART Araneta Coliseum — a loss that dragged them down to the sixth spot.
The 59-year-old tactician remains undaunted, as being on the side of danger is nothing new for his team –– just remember their comeback from 0-3 against the Alaska Aces in the 2016 Philippine Cup Finals.
“Nandito naman kami noon eh,” Austria reflected. “Maraming beses na nangyari sa’min yan — 0-3 kami, nanalo pa rin kami. We’re down against Meralco before, tinalo pa rin namin sila.
“This time we’ll try again.”
And despite the tall order in front of them, Austria is not yet shunning their hopes of winning this conference’s title to get the Grand Slam. But he knows what he and Beermen have gotten themselves into as they gear up to confront the crowd darlings.
“Yung inaasam namin na mag-champion this conference, nandoon pa rin naman eh,” said the five-time champion coach. “But we need to step up dahil this is a different situation right now, especially if you’re up against Ginebra.
“Alam naman natin yung crowd eh nandiyan always for them to support. We will see what happens.”