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Leo Austria hopes 9th PBA championship finally silences doubters

Leo Austria has always had enormous pressure on his shoulders since taking over as San Miguel head coach eight years ago.

Despite winning eight championships in a span of six years, it always felt that he could be gone from San Miguel if he was not able to lead the loaded Beermen to the pinnacle.

And during the entirety of the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup, talks of this being his last conference with the San Miguel Corporation’s crown jewel only grew louder by the game. Yes, even if he steered the Beermen to the Finals, there were murmurs that it was do-or-die for him, especially after NLEX and Yeng Guiao parted ways after Game Six.

And the 64-year-old head coach hears them loud and clear.

“Lagi ko na nababanggit na going to the playoffs, there’s a lot of people on social media na mga critics e,” shared the three-time PBA Coach of the Year.

“Until now, there are so many doubters who doubt our performance.”

Prior to the season, Austria had to dismantle the fabled ‘Death Five’ after letting go of Alex Cabagnot and Arwind Santos, citing the need for young legs.

It resulted in a haul that includes the likes of CJ Perez, Vic Manuel, and a couple of his former wards in Adamson, Jericho Cruz and Rodney Brondial.

This was Austria’s team and it needed to deliver or else.

But for every controversial move he made, his bosses Ramon Ang and Alfrancis Chua were always there to back him up.2022-PBA-Philippine-Cup-Finals-San-Miguel-Leo-Austria Leo Austria hopes 9th PBA championship finally silences doubters Basketball News PBA  - philippine sports news

“I have to admit na hindi ko kaya ito sa sarili ko but with the help of the staff and the support of the management, sila Coach Al [Chua] and especially our boss RSA [Ramon S. Ang] dahil siya ang naglagay sa akin dito, I have to work hard,” he said.

“There’s pressure to win but after winning five All-Filipino Championships, I’m confident that I can win another championship and this is it.”

On Sunday, Austria was once again on top of his players’ shoulders, winning his ninth championship — his first in three years.

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And he hopes that this one would finally silence the doubters.

“The players, especially the ones that are new to the team, want to experience the happiness of winning the championship. Makikita mo itong sila Vic and si CJ… Si CJ scoring champion at si Vic laging nasa Finals pero hindi makuha yung championship. Sabi niya, pinapaiyak daw siya lagi ng San Miguel at ngayon, tumulong siya para makakuha ng championship ang San Miguel,” he said deflecting credit to the players.

“After playing in the SEA Games, he was determined to win another championship. Since Game One, very evident ito. Sinasabi niya lagi na, ‘Coach, kaya natin ‘to at manalo ng championship’,” he continued about June Mar Fajardo, who was with him for the past eight years. “Nandun yung determination niya at wala ako masabi sa kanya, only to provide yung support at help for him to succeed. Pagka naging successful siya, lagi kaming kasama. Suwerte ako na kasama ko si June Mar dahil nagmumuka akong magaling.

“Lagi ko sinasabi na sineswerte ako at gumagaling ako because of the players.”

The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.

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