Austria assured San Miguel—with Fajardo in high form—can reclaim previous throne

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San Miguel center June Mar Fajardo goes up against NorthPort's Troy Rike

San Miguel heart June Mar Fajardo goes up in opposition to NorthPort’s Troy Rike. PBA IMAGES

Leo Austria admits to having a sense of vacancy heading into his ninth 12 months as coach of San Miguel Beer, because the previous two seasons haven’t been that rewarding although he is aware of that his Beermen have put their finest foot ahead every time.

“There are a number of elements which harm our probabilities,” stated Austria, who received titles in every of his first six seasons with San Miguel and got here inside a jewel in need of a Grand Slam twice.

These elements received’t matter this season.

“I really feel that we’re higher ready to go to battle this time, in comparison with the final two seasons due to the pandemic,” he stated.

San Miguel will probably be chasing a title it held onto with vise-like tightness not too way back, and he believes that the others within the 12-team subject nonetheless see his Beermen as a harmful risk to reclaim their throne.

“Folks look to us as favorites and for us, that’s a problem,” he stated. “However we welcome the problem, as a result of we’ve had coaching camp like we’ve by no means had earlier than, so we had been capable of lastly obtain that chemistry.”

They received’t need for challengers this convention: TNT is the defending champion of the Philippine Cup whereas Barangay Ginebra is coming off a championship within the Governors’ Cup and will probably be parading a more healthy unit this season. However Austria ranks his crew among the many high 4, a listing that features the team he’s particularly maintaining a tally of.

“Magnolia,” Austria stated. “They’re a whole team.”

San Miguel received the Philippine Cup 5 straight seasons earlier than relinquishing it in 2020 within the Angeles bubble. And final season, San Miguel didn’t make it again to the Finals.

‘I’ll bounce again’

Austria believes that there’s one massive—a large, 6-foot-10—cause why this Philippine Cup will probably be completely different from the final two and will look strikingly much like the earlier 5.

“He instructed me: ‘babawi ako, coach’ (I’ll bounce again),” Austria stated, referring to a dialog he had with June Mar Fajardo throughout camp as they talked concerning the match that unfurls on Sunday to formally take the lid off of the PBA’s forty seventh Season at Sensible Araneta Coliseum.

“That [conversation with Fajardo] simply offers me a number of confidence,” Austria stated. “And I noticed it in him that he’s in much better form than he was final season when he returned from an damage. He’s working very hard.”

Fajardo additionally received the Most Worthwhile Participant award six straight seasons earlier than that nasty shin damage stored him out from competing for a seventh.

“Additionally, his focus is there already, not like final season when one thing about his restoration [from the shin injury] tousled his confidence and after that, he misplaced his mother.”

Does he nonetheless have the league’s most dominant participant coming into the season?

“If we encompass him with the correct gamers, sure,” he stated. “And that’s our job within the teaching employees.”

They’ve carried out job up to now, stacking the roster up and down with skills who’re coming collectively on the proper time.

“We’re simply attempting to learn to belief one another, study to go the ball to one another,” veteran guard Chris Ross stated throughout the league’s Media Day at Novotel in Cubao, Quezon Metropolis. “It’s been fairly good currently. After we misplaced the final convention, we took per week off after which went again to observe. We’ve had a number of time to actually observe collectively.”

Not defending a title once more may take some strain off Austria and his fees beginning Sunday, however the goal has remained the identical since he began calling the pictures.

“The goal is at all times to win a championship,” Austria stated with a smile. “And this team is aware of win.”

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