Austria: ‘Healthy’ SMB to give good fight in upcoming PBA season

Austria: 'Healthy' SMB to give good fight in upcoming PBA season

MANILA, Philippines — San Miguel Beermen coach Leo Austria is eager to field a rejuvenated SMB team in the upcoming PBA season.

This, after injuries marred the Beermen's campaign in the PBA bubble last year and the team was forced to the outside looking in as they were dethroned in their six-peat bid in the Philippine Cup.

But now, with a prolonged layoff due to delays in the season amid rising cases of COVID-19 in the country, Austria expects a healthy and well-rested squad once the ball gets rolling.

"I think magiging healthy 'yung team, I think we will give them a good fight this coming season," he said.

Among those who Austria's Beermen missed in their PBA bubble campaign was six-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo, who had to miss the season entirely due to a fractured tibia.

While Terence Romeo, who has been an offensive force for the Beermen, exited the bubble early after a shoulder injury.

Both players, according to Austria, are well on their way to returning to their top form.

"So far, so good kami dahil si Terence (Romeo) since last December, healthy na siya. He could play a whole game," Austria revealed on former PBA commissioner Noli Eala's Power & Play on Saturday.

"Then si June Mar (Fajardo), alam naman natin yung kanyang situation ay nagkaroon ng setback but because of this mga lockdown, mga delay, naka-recover siya," Austria added.

The team's training camp earlier this year aggrevated Fajardo's injury, but the multi-titled coach said that he is still on track to make a return sooner rather than later.

"Before the lockdown, he (Fajardo) started his drills, meron na siyang laterals and merong forward-backward, and then supposed to be the following week eh magkakaroon na siya ng five-vs-o, sasabay na siya sa team," Austria said.

"Unfortunately, tumaas yung mga cases kaya napilitan tayong magpahinga na naman," he added.

Now, as the start of practices and scrimmages loom after the IATF gave the green light to the PBA earlier this week, Austria is optimistic on what they can bring to the table this season.

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