SMB: We’ll win sans June Mar
Joey Villar, Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - January 20, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - With or without June Mar Fajardo, the San Miguel Beermen vowed to keep on fighting, confident they could bounce back strong and complete a great comeback tale.

“The story of the conference is not yet finished. For as long as there’s still a chance to win, we’ll not lose hope. We’ll fight in whatever situation we’re in,” said SMB coach Leo Austria heading to the next game of the Smart Bro PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven finals where they trail the Alaska Aces, 0-2.

Game Three is set at 7 p.m. tomorrow over at the Quezon Convention Center in Lucena.

The Beermen remain hopeful of winning the championship despite losing Game One at 91-100 and Game Two at 80-83.

For the record, 37-of-43 is the winning record among teams who have enjoyed a 2-0 advantage in a PBA best-of-seven series. It means only six have survived being in a 0-2 hole.

And for all of San Miguel Beer’s league-best number of title hauls (21), nothing came from a fightback from a 0-2 deficit. In the previous times that the Beermen found themselves in similar situation they’re in right now, not once did they survive or even force a Game Seven.

Austria, however, insists the series is far from over.

The Alaska Milk Aces, meanwhile, won’t fall to complacency with their 2-0 lead.

“I know coach Leo (Austria) and I know the character of most of the guys there. I know them personally. We’ll not take the fight away from them when we still haven’t got the needed fourth win,” said Compton.

Austria said endgame foldup caused them to lose Game One then bad breaks in the homestretch hastened their defeat in Game Two

“Even without June Mar, we’re there fighting and competing. That’s the way to do it – fight in whatever situation we are,” said Austria.

And the SMB mentor maintains they won’t bring back their 6-foot-10 ace behemoth if he’s not ready.

“I have told June Mar we could sacrifice this championship but not his career. There’s a lot of championships ahead of him, and the management understands,” said Austria.

“The way we see it, if he’s not 100 percent, he won’t help the team. I’m sure he wants to try but, again, I don’t want to sacrifice him. This is not the only tournament for him. Gilas Pilipinas needs him healthy in July,” Austria added.

Needless to say, Fajardo’s absence is a big handicap for the Beermen.

“We need June Mar to open up our shooters. Without him, we can’t find opening for our shooters as Alaska’s defense is extended to them,” said Austria.

“Yes, Yancy (de Ocampo) and Gabby (Espinas) can play the post. They help a lot. But they can’t fill in the dominant inside presence that June Mar provides us,” Austria also said. “Without the big man, we’re playing guards’ game.”

But then, San Miguel also faces Alaska’s competent backcourt crew in Jvee Casio, Cyrus Baguio, Chris Banchero, RJ Jazul and Dondon Hontiveros.

“Perhaps, we need a little more adjustment. And we have to keep believing that we can win without June Mar,” said Austria.

ACIRC ALASKA ACES ALASKA MILK ACES AUSTRIA BEERMEN CHRIS BANCHERO CYRUS BAGUIO GAME GAME ONE GAME TWO JUNE MAR
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