San Miguel Beer stint in FIBA Asia Champions Cup still uncertain, says coach Leo Austria

Photo courtesy of the ASEAN Basketball League

Photo courtesy of the ASEAN Basketball League

Representing the Philippines in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup is still in question for ASEAN Basketball League titlist San Miguel Beer, according to coach Leo Austria.

The team earned a berth to the top regional club competition set in Jordan in September, but Austria said the tournament had been out of the team’s radar.

“Hindi na-discuss sa amin yung tungkol sa FIBA Asia Champions Cup because we’re so focused on the ABL,” Austria said in a telephone interview. “Even the ABL, they didn’t tell us about that.”

Austria, the PBA’s Rookie of the Year in 1985, said that a lot of his players have expiring contracts.

“We still don’t know what the management’s decision will be,” said Austria. “There are players whose contracts are expiring this June while our imports are scheduled to leave on Thursday.”

Brian Williams and Justin Williams led the team to the title in a sweep over the Indonesia Warriors last week.

Last year, San Miguel Beer was given an automatic spot to the FIBA Asia Champions Cup along with the eventual ABL champion. Last year, there was confusion as to which team would represent the Philippines in the competition. San Miguel Beer, which finished as the runner-up in last season’s ABL tournament, thought that it earned a berth for the contest.

But the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national team, which finished in the top four of the 2011 FIBA Asia Champions Cup, also thought that it was seeded for the tournament.

FIBA Asia secretary-general Hagop Khajirian later told the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas that San Miguel Beer had the right to represent the Philippines. By then, however, the Beermen had already dissolved its original squad before embarking on a major buildup.

As a result of the confusion, the Philippines was unable to send a squad to the competition.

SBP deputy executive director Bernie Atienza said that executive director Sonny Barrios will discuss the matter with FIBA Asia secretary general Hagop Kajirhian on Tuesday.

“They will be in Geneva to attend the inauguration of the new FIBA house,” wrote Atienza in a text message.

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