San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria acknowledged having to go through the eye of the needle before eventually conquering Magnolia and clinching a fifth consecutive PBA Philippine Cup title.
Austria said that as the series progressed, Magnolia came up with a variety of defensive schemes that somewhat threw off the Beermen.
“ ’Yung defense ng Magnolia, every game iba ’yung ibinibigay sa amin. Isang halimbawa noong first game, kay June Mar (Fajardo) iba ang defense nila kung papaanong ido-double, kung papaanong iti-triple (team),” Austria said in an interview on DZMM’s “Fast Break.”
“Nakita mo naman nu’ng Game 5, parating palang ang bola nakadoble na sila. Then ’yung shaded area, hindi makakakuha ng bola ang malalaki namin. Maswerte lang kami marami kaming outside shooters. Pero nu’ng nag-click naman ang perimeter namin, meron na naman silang scheme. Ang hirap.”
Fortunately, Austria said, he has Fajardo.
The reigning 5-time league MVP, Fajardo averaged 22.9 points, 19.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocks in the series.
“Ginamit talaga natin si June Mar, dahil ang napapansin ko sa kanila ang kinatatakutan nila ay si June Mar,” he said.
Fajardo was a beast, especially in the title-clinching Game 7 where he brought down 31 rebounds, a league single-game record.
"Talagang unbelievable ang ginagawa niya. Pero talagang alam ko anuman oras talagang makukuha niya ang rebounds na ’yun," said Austria.
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