MANILA, Philippines – Despite leading San Miguel Beer to five championships in the past three seasons of the PBA, head coach Leo Austria is not exempt from criticism.
Much of the criticism stems from Austria's tendency to play his starters long minutes, particularly star center June Mar Fajardo. Nevertheless, he often points out that the tactic has worked: they won two championships last season and just fell short of a Grand Slam.
Still, Austria acknowledged that it will make life easier for his starting unit if their reserves come up big whenever they are called upon.
"Talagang I'm looking for a player who could provide some quality minutes for the starters to have a good rest," he said recently, after a preseason game between San Miguel and Kia at the Claret School Gym.
The reigning Coach of the Year is relatively confident that this season, they have a second unit that can step up for their first five. Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, acquired in a midseason trade last season, was solid in the preseason, while new acquisitions such as forward Billy Mamaril and guard Chico Lanete also stepped up.
Austria is also banking on Von Pessumal to provide a scoring punch off the bench for the Beermen this year.
"Kailangan immediately, itong second group ay mabuhay," said Austria.
"I'm happy with Ganuelas, dahil nagpapakita siya ng quality minutes. I hope na si Pessumal, pagbalik niya ay pakinabangan namin ang kanyang outside shooting," he added. "Na-injure lang siya sa kanyang mata, but I'm positive sa kanya."
With all these players ready to contribute off the pine, Austria is optimistic that he will not have to stretch his starters' minutes too much this year.
"I think makaka-develop kami ng 10 players sa rotation namin," he said.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.