Austria pushes panic button

    ATTACK MODE: Meralco wingman Bong Quinto attacks the defense of San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo last Sunday.
    ATTACK MODE: Meralco wingman Bong Quinto attacks the defense of San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo last Sunday.

    THERE are enough games left for San Miguel Beer to regain its bearings and achieve its immediate target in the PBA Governors Cup.

    Still, Beermen coach Leo Austria is already pushing the panic button.

    “We should act together,” Austria kept stressing after SMB absorbed a 125-99 drubbing from Meralco last Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

    It was the second straight loss for the Beermen, dropping them to fifth overall on a 5-3 record and one full game out of a magic circle.

    That’s a stark departure for the same team that got off to a 4-0 start in the season-ending conference and fanned doubts about its ability to make it among the top four teams at the end of the 11-game eliminations, a finish that carries with it a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.

    Should the Beermen fail to realize that goal, their bid to complete a season sweep would be greatly jeopardized. That explains the heightened sense of urgency for Austria.

    “We should get back to the way we played in the playoffs (because) the way we play right now is not like we’re looking for another championship,” said Austria.

    “We’re after the goal of so many fans, management, and the team because this is a rare opportunity. I don’t want to mention it… because that’s something that could pressure the team. But first things first: We should act together.”

    That was what was essentially discussed inside SMB’s dugout after the game, a marathon meeting of minds that took almost two hours.

    “We had a lengthy discussion. We’re trying to figure out what’s really happening with our team. The problem in our last few games is we’re just playing, we’re not competing,” Austria said.

    “What is lacking in our team is we’re so complacent because of a good start,” he added. “They thought it’s easy to win. I told them we should not dwell on the last two championships because a lot of teams right now are playing well, and they have very good teams with the presence of very good imports.”

    So is SMB reinforcement Dez Wells, but him maybe being too good is the seed of the problem.

    “Our main concern is the local players. They should provide help to Dez because of the fact that he scores 56 points, but he cannot do it alone,” insisted Austria. “I think we have a problem with the locals because we’re relying more on him.”

    Wells went into the Meralco game averaging a conference-best 39.9 points anchored on 52 points in a 124-129 loss to Ginebra last Oct. 13 and 56 points in a 119-127 loss to NorthPort just last Wednesday.