AS clear as day in the opener of the San Miguel-Meralco face-off Wednesday was the Beermen's tremendous energy that fueled their dominant wire-to-wire triumph.
Coach Leo Austria easily dissected it, attributing it to his players' motivation and the fatigue factor taking its toll on the Meralco side coming from a tough full three-game quarters series versus Barangay Ginebra.
But Austria is not entertaining thoughts that would be the case all series long.
The Beermen would remain highly motivated, but the Bolts could pick up the pieces of their shattering 121-97 defeat, regroup and wage a fightback any time in the series.
And Austria reminds everyone, including himself, that it's a long series, and Meralco is a dangerous opponent with its hunger, drive and motivation to end a long hunt for ultimate glory.
The Beermen and the Bolts go at each other again at 3 p.m. Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with Austria pushing his wards to press defensively harder.
"They want to run, they play suffocating defense. Defensive team sila, offensive team kami. May contrast, but we have to improve on our defense, and that would be the key," said Austria.
The San Miguel mentor is concerned their big 24-point triumph in Game 1 would make them complacent.
"Delikado baka mag-relax. I-a-address ko yan sa kanila. This is just one game of a long series. We'll try our best talagang gawin ang game plan.
We succeeded in Game 1, I hope we can sustain it in the next game," Austria said.
No doubt, the immediate task for the Bolts is to relax and go back to the board.
Drained physically and mentally from the tough quarters grind against the Gin Kings, they didn't stand a chance against the fully charged Beermen Wednesday.
But there's no turning back for caretaker coach Luigi Trillo and his troops. (SB)