Although he fell short in sweeping all titles in the past season, San Miguel Beer tactician Leo Austria further cemented his legacy in the Philippine Basketball Association by becoming the first coach to keep the perpetual Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan trophy — an honor that goes to any mentor who wins the PBA Press Corps’ coach of the year award for three straight years.
The 59-year-old Austria bested Barangay Ginebra’s Tim Cone, TNT KaTropa’s Nash Racela, and Magnolia (formerly Star) Hotshots’ Chito Victolero for the highest award to be given during the annual formal event presented by Cignal TV. He is also one of the seven multiple winners of the coveted award, joining Chot Reyes (5), Cone (3), Yeng Guiao (2), Jong Uichico (2), Ryan Gregorio (2), and Perry Ronquillo (2).
Cone won the award in 1994, 1996, and 2014 while Reyes has the distinction of having a record of five awards (1993, 2002, 2003, 2009, 2011).
Austria, who saw action in the PBA from 1985 to 1993, steered the Beermen to the Philippine Cup and Commissioner’s Cup championships. He also won a championship for San Miguel in each of his three seasons with the team since coming on board in 2014.
His Grand Slam hopes were dashed as sister team Barangay Ginebra successfully defended its season-ending Governors’ Cup crown.