San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria looked back at final 3 minutes and 52 seconds of Game 4 as the turning point of the Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
Down 0-3 in the series and facing a series shutout against Alaska, Austria credited Fil-American Chris Ross for rallying his team and reminding the Beermen that the series is far from over.
“I think the turning point was the fourth game. We were down by 11 points in the last 3:52 of the game and the fans of Alaska were already celebrating,” recalled Austria, shortly after steering San Miguel to a historic 96-89 win in Game 7 to become the first team in league history to come back from a 0-3 Finals deficit on Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“Chris Ross refused to lose. With his leadership, he encouraged the players and with that, we were able to beat them (Aces),” he added.
The 57-year-old San Miguel coach said when the Beermen repeated against the Aces in Game 5, 86-73, in overtime, they felt beating Alaska in the 7-game series is posible.
“When we cut Alaska’s lead in the series, 3-2, I said, ‘this is it.’ We only need two wins,” he said.
“And when we leveled up, the momentum was on our side already and the good thing is, the pressure wasn’t on our side,” added Austria.
Austria, who steered San Miguel to 2 league championships last season, described this season’s Philippine Cup title as the sweetest in his coaching career, having achieved history in pro basketball.
“I think in all of my championship victories, this is the sweetest because this is the PBA and I believe we’re the talk of the nation,” said the beaming coach.
“Not only that, because it’s (championship) history and a record. In fact, Filipinos from abroad will know this win.”
Austria said he is giving the Beermen a break for the rest of this week and will return to practice next Monday when they start preparing for the Commissioner’s Cup, which will open on February 10. — By Richard Dy