San Miguel trio suspension sends 'strong signal,' says Austria
MANILA, Philippines – Leo Austria would rather see the silver lining on San Miguel's decision to punish 3 of its players, even if it means a huge blow to their chances of winning a rare PBA Grand Slam.
San Miguel suspended Arwind Santos, Kelly Nabong, and Ronald Tubid indefinitely for their involvement in a tussle during a team practice despite the Governors' Cup playoffs kicking off in less than a week.
Their absence may have taken its toll on the team as San Miguel failed to clinch the twice-to-beat quarterfinals incentive after absorbing a sorry 109-114 defeat to TNT on Wednesday, November 20.
But as untimely as the development could be, Austria said the team is above all.
"It's an organization decision, management decision. And I'm sure that those measures will not be bad for us," Austria said in a mix of Filipino and English.
"Maybe a minor setback, but moving forward, I think it will help us a lot because it's a strong signal for everybody in the team that they cannot do something silly, okay? Everyone should think of the team before themselves."
San Miguel seemed to have gotten its message across its players as Austria noticed how his wards embraced the task to win – albeit falling short in the end.
"[T]he morale is so high and then everybody's so inspired because what happened to us, we take it positively. And that's the normal thing that might happen in any team, whether it's the NBA, PBA," he said.
"You can see the players, they really dove for the ball. And their effort was there, they went all out. It's just the breaks of the game."
But the playoffs is a different beast, more so that San Miguel will be facing a twice-to-beat disadvantage against Barangay Ginebra.
The last time San Miguel was one championship away from accomplishing a Triple Crown, it got crushed and eliminated by a twice-to-beat Barangay Ginebra in the Governors' Cup quarterfinals in 2017.
Also, San Miguel will be missing Santos, who has won 9 titles with the franchise and has bailed the team out innumerable times with clutch buckets.
For Austria, though, those are just facts the team has to live with.
"Arwind's a big part of our team and he can help us in so many ways, but we have to accept the reality because we cannot tolerate the incident that what happened to us," Austria said.
He added: "Although it's an internal [issue], that's what the organization stands for. We really have to do something that could give us some reminder, strong signal that nobody's above the policy of the company."
San Miguel will try to stave off elimination and force a do-or-die when it locks horns with Barangay Ginebra on Sunday, November 24, at the Araneta Coliseum. – Rappler.com