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One for the road for SMB

Despite the failure of San Miguel Beer to advance in the finals series of the Commissioner’s Cup, coach Leo Austria said it’s not the end of the road for the Beermen as they now have to focus their attention on defending the Governors’ Cup in July.

San Miguel lost to Rain or Shine, 124-99, in Game 4 of their semifinal series last Sunday, and in the way shattered their bid of a second Grand Slam championship for the franchise.

“We can look forward to the Governors’ Cup,” said Austria, who gave RoS, which he mentored during the team’s early years in the PBA, little chance of advancing in the semifinals against Ginebra – swept by the Elasto Painters in a three-game quarterfinal series.

“We’re the defending champion, so we’ll use as motivation what happened here in our campaign this conference. We’ll prepare for it.”

The thought of winning the PBA’s version of a ‘triple crown’ entered everyone’s mind at SMB after the team earned top seeding in the playoffs as it finished tied on top with Meralco at 8-3.

Although the team needed an extra ‘do-or-die’ game to eliminate NLEX in the quarterfinals, the Beermen were the heavy favorites opposite the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in the semifinals.

RoS, however, took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five showdown and the problem at the SMB camp unraveled with the outburst of import Tyler Wilkerson following Game 2, which led management to fire him and opted to play with an all-Filipino roster in Game 3.

The team played inspired basketball and won Game 3, 104-98, and opted to bring in former import AZ Reid – the same reinforcement, who led SMB to the title in the last Governors’ Cup – for Game 4.

Reid, who played several times for RoS where he won a pair of Best Import plums, converted 12-of-31 from the field for 25 points. Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot combined for 38 points on 13-of-26 shooting.

“I wasn’t supposed to be here, but I came to help my team… not one regret,” said Reid.

“I tried. My minds said yes, but my body said no. Of course I’m disappointed… had the shots I wanted and the shots I normally make, but I ain’t got no legs. Not blaming (anybody). It is what it is.”

“I hurt them more than I helped them. Its just more motivation for me for next conference, come back sharper and be in better shape,” added Reid, who will return to the US but will be back first week of June.