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Leo Austria on third-straight Coach of the Year: ‘I never thought I will become a successful coach’



Philippine Sports News - Tiebreaker Times Leo Austria on third-straight Coach of the Year: 'I never thought I will become a successful coach' Basketball News PBA  PBA Season 42 PBA Press Corps Leo Austria

When he began coaching in 1998 in the now-defunct amateur league PBL after an eight-year pro career, Leo Austria never really imagined that one day he would be heralded as one of the best coaches in the land.

But now, with nearly two decades of experience, the San Miguel Beermen head coach has reached that status.

Austria was feted the 2017 Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan Coach of the Year Award for the third successive year, making him the first-ever three-peat winner of the said award in the PBA Press Corps Awards’ 24-year history.

“I never thought I will become a successful coach in the PBA,” admitted the five-time champion coach, who brought home the perpetual trophy named in honor of the prodigious coach dubbed as the Maestro.

Winning the coveted coaching plum multiple times in a few years is truly remarkable, considering that he had taken SMB’s coaching reins just in 2014 — the start of the storied franchise’s return to prominence and dominance.

But for the amiable bench strategist, being honored with the award wouldn’t be possible if it were not for the people around him in San Miguel helping him, from his prized players all the way to the management.

“Wala ako dito kung hindi sila (players) nagpe-perform ng maganda,” Austria expressed. “[And] I’m just lucky because we have a [good] management team, especially Boss RSA (Ramon S. Ang), who knows how to form a competitive team.

“Lahat ito utang ko sa kanya. Dahil sa kumpiyansa at tiwala na ibinigay niya sa’kin. I will always remember Boss RSA for the rest of my life,” he furthered.

Austria’s awarding on Thursday only cemented his status as one of the best tacticians today. But that doesn’t mean that he will rest on his laurels, insisting that he will always be after improving and learning.

If you keep on improving and improving, makikita mo ano magigiging bunga eh. That’s why everyday I want to be always a student of the game. And I have to keep on learning,” he said.

Dahil basketball is my life.”

Austria was then asked if a rare Grand Slam would be the next thing he would want to achieve, especially after they fell just a title short this year.

“We’re not thinking of any Grand Slam,” he said. “I have to work really hard to prepare my team [first] dahil every team in the PBA is trying to build their team, and they’re doing their best to be competitive.

“And besides, because of those awards and championships, the target is our team,” Austria added.

We should be prepared for this coming season.”