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PBA: SMB coach blames complacency for loss

Calvin Abueva of Alaska against SMB's June Mara fajardo during PBA game 3 finals action at Smart Araneta Coliseum.   Photo by Tony Pionilla

Manila, Philippines – 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.