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Short respite for SMB

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The setback from last season’s Commissioner’s Cup in mind, San Miguel Beer mentor Leo Austria is giving his players just a short time to rest before they plunge back to practice session for the next import-flavored conference that starts this Wednesday.

“After what happened to us last season, we learned our lessons already,” said Austria yesterday.

“We’re giving the players time to rest, but not a vacation. I’m sure all of them understand that because we can’t afford to have a longer break, we don’t want the same thing happening again to us,” added Austria.

The only player that will be given extra days off is June Mar Fajardo, the reigning back-to-back MVP who missed the first four games of the finals series because of a left knee injury.

Fajardo rejoined the team in Game 5, and Austria admitted that his prized 6-10 center is not a 100 percent.

“June Mar will attend practice but he’ll not join in scrimmages. We all know that June Mar has not fully recovered even if he played in the finals. We’ll have him ready for the Commissioner’s Cup,” said Austria.

San Miguel is in a similar position like last year as it repeated as Philippine Cup champion with a historic run, completing a reversed ‘sweep’ against the Alaska Aces by winning the last four games after the Beermen fell behind 0-3 in the seven-game finals series.

SMB capped its comeback with a 96-89 win in Game 7 for its 22nd overall championship last Wednesday in front of 23,616 fans at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.

Last season, San Miguel also defeated Alaska in a thrilling best-of-seven title showdown but was a disappointment in the Commissioner’s Cup as the team failed to make it to the quarterfinal playoffs.

“We came into the Commissioner’s Cup not in our best shape that’s why we struggled. Our import (Robertson) also arrived three days before our first game so he had a tough time adjusting with the team.”

“Now we’ll prepare hard for this coming conference. Our target is to make the quarterfinals. If we can make it to the top four and have a twice-to-beat, much better for us,” added Austria.