Leo Austria says SMB's preparations hampered by injuries, lack of players

Alaska advances past San Miguel (2:14)

The Alaska Aces eliminate the San Miguel Beermen, 96-83. to advance to the PBA Governors' Cup semifinals. (2:14)

San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria did not pin the blame on anyone but rued injury to key players as one of the reasons that led to the Beermen's doom in the 2018 PBA Governors' Cup.

Austria said the injuries, especially to main man June Mar Fajardo, derailed their preparation for the season-ending conference where they did all they could to reach the quarterfinals only to falter against Alaska, 96-85, on Wednesday.

His ace, Fajardo, was shelved with a shin injury for most of the conference. Without the reigning four-time MVP, the team struggled although the Beermen gained some steam with Christian Standhardinger leading the charge.

While Fajardo made a comeback in the last game of their elimination round campaign, he was far from dominant.

"It's not only the injury of June Mar. We were struggling at the start of this conference and that is because we have three players in the national team and there were players with injuries," Austria said after the match at the Cuneta Astrodome.

"There was a time that we're practicing with seven players only in our roster. But it's not an excuse. It gives some impact on the preparation of the team."

Rest had been in short supply for the Beermen, who played in the finals of the first two conferences. In between conferences, the team only had a brief vacation before hitting the ground running again.

"I think that's the reason we were struggling besides those players in the national team and a lot in the injury list, we cannot prepare hard and do a good game plan because the key players were not around at that time," he said.

For Arwind Santos, it was God's way of telling the almighty Beermen they are not untouchables.

"Maybe God wants to tell us we're not always supposed to be on top," he said in Filipino. "We need to rise from the bottom. We need to go back to Earth and try to rise again."

As disappointing as this early exit was, Austria said there's nothing to be ashamed of. After all, the team won a championship and reached the finals this season.

"That's basketball. You win some, you lose some. But I'm still proud of the team," he said.

"Because in the last four years, 12 conferences, we've been in the Finals seven times, and won six championships. I think we have nothing to be ashamed of."