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Austria dismisses SMB’s tag as favorite

LEO AustriaSan Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria said he understands why the Beermen are tagged as favorites to win the PBA Philippine Cup, but this means nothing when playing in the finals.

“Of course, yun ang iisipin ng mga tao kasi nga nandyan si June Mar (Fajardo), and then naka-sweep pa kami against a very strong team in Talk ’N Text, na liyamado ang team namin para manalo ng championship,” said Austria.

“Pero pagdating sa finals, wala na yang favorites na yan, yung mga stats sa nakaraang series wala na yan. Ang titignan na ng mga tao is yung energy ng team, kung nakapag-prepare ba kami ng maayos,” added Austria.

After a two-day break, SMB resumed practice yesterday in preparation for the championship round either against Rain or Shine or Alaska.

The Aces can end the series against the Elasto Painters with a win in Game 6 on Sunday at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City. Alaska took a 3-2 lead after winning Game 5, 93-88, last Saturday.

Austria said that he reminded his players to remain focused and keep the kind of energy they displayed against TNT going into the best-of-seven finals series – the first time that the franchise is in the title series since losing in Game 7 of the Governors’ Cup against San Mig Super Coffee.

“Alam ko naman andun pa din yung gutom ng players to win the title. Kailangan namin i-sustain yun. Na-achieve na namin yung first goal na makarating sa finals, so yung pangalang goal naman and that is to win the title,” said Austria.

Fajardo is leading not just the team but also the league in points (18.5), rebounds (12.7) and blocked shots (2.3), reason why he is on top of the Best Player of the Conference (BPC) derby.