For winning two titles last season, San Miguel Beer mentor Leo Austria will be honored as the 2015 SCBC-8 Entertainment Corporation-Coach of the Year when the PBA Press Corps (PBAPC) holds its Annual Awards Night this Wednesday at the Century Park Hotel.
Austria return to the PBA as bench tactician during the 40th Season was a memorable one, as he finally became a champion coach – winning two titles with SMB by taking two of the three conference championships.
Austria first steered the Beermen to the Philippine Cup with a thrilling Game 7 victory against Alaska, and after missing the playoffs of the Commissioner’s Cup, the team bounced back and won the Governors’ Cup by sweeping the seven-game series opposite the same Aces squad.
With his achievements, the former PBA Rookie of the Year (1985) journey as a mentor has finally come into fruition as the PBAPC unanimously voted him as the Coach of the Year named after the legendary Baby Dalupan.
Austria’s coaching career in the PBA started when he took over from John Moran with Shell in 2004. He was also named head coach of then newcomer Welcoat Paints (now Rain or Shine) in 2006.
The 57-year-old Austria left the team after two seasons to coach the Adamson University Falcons in the UAAP, and then the San Miguel Beermen in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL), winning the title in 2013.
Austria was appointed as coach of SMB prior to the 2014-15 PBA Season, taking over a franchise that has reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo, 2013 MVP Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Lutz and Ronald Tubid.
Austria is just the third bench tactician of SMB to win the PBAPC Coach of the Year award and first in 15 years. He joined American Ron Jacobs (1997) and Jong Uichico (2000).
Austria will be joining Talk ’N Text’s Patrick “Pato” Gregorio, who will be feted with the “Danny Floro” Executive if the Year award, as among the top achievers this year.