PBA: SMB, Phoenix coaches not worried about physicality after intense Game 3

The Phoenix coaching staff talks to a referee after a foul was called on Dave Marcelo. Richard Esguerra, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines — Both Phoenix coach Louie Alas and San Miguel coach Leo Austria appeared unworried about the heightened physicality in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series after an eventful Game 3 on Easter Sunday.

The contest — won by Phoenix in nail-biting fashion, 92-90 — featured several stoppages in action as players tumbled to the court, along with instances of players jawing at each other. 

Phoenix forward Dave Marcelo was ejected from the game in the second quarter after committing a flagrant foul penalty 2 on SMB’s Christian Standhardinger, while Matt Ganuelas-Rosser was called for a technical foul in the same incident.

In all, Phoenix was called for 41 fouls, while San Miguel was whistled for 36.

“Eh pisikal ‘yung laban eh,” Alas said after the game, which allowed his team to cut the deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.

“Maganda ang officiating tonight, although some missed calls or non-calls. But when it comes to physicality, it’s welcome to everybody,” said Austria, for his part.

Indeed, Alas exhorted the referees to refrain from calling touch fouls and instead “let them play,” in part to inject excitement back into the game. 

“Heto ‘yung dalawang pinaka-pisikal na teams. Kapag ‘yung mga pindot-pindot lang, tatawagan mo, baka next year pa tayo matapos sa dami ng fouls,” he said. “Sabi ko, let them play. Kasi lahat naman tayo, gusto ng exciting game.”

“Eh mas exciting ang ganoon eh,” said Alas.

Both coaches made it clear that they know the limits of their team’s physical play. Alas, in particular, noted that he wants to avoid those “landing spot” fouls that put the shooter in danger.

“Ang masama, ‘yung airborne ka sasahudin,” he noted. “Pero ‘yung kaunting bangga… Sa FIBA, manood ka ng FIBA, ‘yung 3-on-3. Tingnan mo kung paano sila mag-pisikal doon.”

“You want na pabalikin ‘yung fans dito? Gawin niyong pisikal ‘yan,” he also said. “Wala lang talagang mga F2 (flagrant foul penalty 2), ‘yun lang talaga alisin natin.”

“Pero ‘yung physicalities? You have to allow that. This is a man’s game,” Alas stressed. 

Likewise, Austria is fine with physical play for as long as “there’s no intention to harm players.” Indeed, the San Miguel coach commended Phoenix for their defense on June Mar Fajardo, with Doug Kramer in particular giving their star big man fits.

“But,” he was quick to add, “there are things na kailangan mag-ingat ang players dahil both teams naman, gustong manalo. Pero not to the point na you can hurt somebody.”

“And, I’m so thankful tonight, walang mga major injuries dahil nagkakatamaan, nagkaka-sikuhan ng kaunti. Pero that’s fine and that’s part of the game. But no untoward incidents that could affect both teams,” he said.

The players themselves also shrugged off the physical nature of the game, including Standhardinger who found himself tangling not just with Marcelo but also Calvin Abueva over the course of the 48-minute battle.

“It doesn’t matter how physical they play. We just have to stay in tuned with our game and got to take the hits,” he said.

For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.

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