One can look at San Miguel’s Game 1 loss to Magnolia in the Philippine Cup Finals in two ways pretty much.
The first was how in the world did the four-time defending champions lose with five-time MVP June Mar Fajardo scoring 35 points and grabbing 21 rebounds.
The second is despite the fact that the San Miguel struggled on offense the whole game, the Beermen still only lost by five and had the chance for a game-tying basket in the final 20 seconds.
Head coach Leo Austria would like to key in on the second point, where aside from June Mar, his team fired blanks the whole of Game 1.
That and the many lapses on defense that allowed Magnolia to have six players in double figures.
“If we look at the stats, 37 percent shooting lang kami, usually nasa 40s kami. How can we win if they [Hotshots] shot 46 percent?” Austria said after the Game 1 stunner.
“Three-points namin, wow, 25 percent vs. 32 [percent],” he added.
Heading into this series, the Beermen knew that they were going to face perhaps the best defensive unit in the league.
That’s no surprise. What’s surprising for Austria was how the Beermen came out flat against said Magnolia defense.
“We know that kind of defense. There's nothing different with their defense,” coach Leo said.
“The problem is in our shot selection because they [Beermen] came in a series that they won 4-1 [vs. Phoenix in semis], they thought na it was easy to beat Magnolia. They thought na kayang kaya. Hindi nangyari. We know that Magnolia is a competitive team,” he added.
It was a bad loss for San Miguel but fortunately, it’s just Game 1 of a best-of-7 series.
The Beermen were down one game in last year’s Finals as well before turning around and winning four straight for the title.
“This is only the first game and we are lucky that this is not a knockout game,” Austria said.
“We still have a lot of time to regroup and know what to do next game,” he added.
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