Austria credits players for Coach of Year award: I won't be here if not for them | Inquirer Sports
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Austria credits players for Coach of Year award: I won’t be here if not for them

/ 07:05 PM December 01, 2017

From L-R: Robert Non, San Miguel’s Chris Ross, Leo Austria, Alex Cabagnot and AlFrancis Chua.


San Miguel coach Leo Austria would be the first to admit that never in his wildest dreams did he think that he’d achieve success on the sidelines in the pro league.

“I never thought I’ll be a successful coach in the PBA,” he said.

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Though the Sariaya, Quezon native had a largely fruitful playing career, where he was named as the 1985 Rookie of the Year and won one title in 1990 with Formula Shell, it took him several years before making a name for himself in the coaching ranks.

Even though he was gifted with a head coaching job for the newcomer Welcoat and old team Shell in the 2000s, victories came few and far in between that it led him to take a job with Adamson in the UAAP.

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The long awaited return to the pros ended in 2013 when Austria led the San Miguel Beermen in to the championship in the ABL.

That breakthrough allowed the SMC powers to give him another shot with San Miguel, this time in the PBA, as he was tasked to turn things around for the powerhouse yet dysfunctional Beermen crew.

“All I want is to have a good team that I know can do so much. A lot of things could be improved on the team, but you know if you keep on improving and improving, you’ll eventually see the fruits of your labor,” the 59-year-old mentor said.

And as they say, the rest is history.

Leading the squad to five championships in three seasons, Austria’s efforts did not go unnoticed as he was cited as the Coach of the Year for the third straight season, a first in the 2017 PBA Press Corps Annual Awards that allowed him to take home the Baby Dalupan Perpetual trophy for good.

But amid all of his success, Austria knows that he won’t be at the level he’s in if not for his players.

“I won’t be Coach of the Year if not for my players. I wanted them to excel and win a lot of championships and that reflects on the effort us coaches put in the last three years,” he said. “I think I did well with the team and that it inspires me more. Every success we achieve, I really attribute that to the players.”

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At the top of the mountain for the better part of the last three years, Austria said that there’s nothing more he could ask for San Miguel in the coming season than to remain there as he seeks to lead the crew of four-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo, Chris Ross, Alex Cabagnot, Arwind Santos, and Marcio Lassiter to more championships.

“This time, I have to really work hard and prepare hard because we all know that every team we face is trying to do their best to beat us for those championships,” he said.

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TAGS: Leo Austria, PBA, PBA Press Corps, San Miguel Beermen
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