Third time’s a charm for Leo Austria as the San Miguel mentor run away anew with the Coach of the Year Award to be handed out by the PBA Press Corps in its 24th Awards Night on Thursday at the Gloria Maris Restaurant inside the Gateway Mall at the Araneta Center in Cubao.
For winning the award three straight seasons, Austria will now get to permanently keep the beautifully, wooden-crafted Virgilio ‘Baby’ Dalupan trophy named in honor of the late great ‘Maestro’ of coaching.
Austria, 59, is the first ever coach to do the feat since the group of sportswriters from the various daily broadsheets, tabloids, and sports website began handing out the award in 1993.
He bested veteran Barangay Ginebra counterpart Tim Cone, TnT Katropa’s Nash Racela, and Chito Victolero for the highest individual award to be given during the formal gathering presented by Cignal TV.
Austria, who played nine seasons in the league from 1985 to 1993, steered the Beermen to the Philippine Cup and Commissioner’s Cup championships, respectively, and came just a title short of completing a rare grand slam in the just concluded 42nd PBA season.
The native of Sariaya, Quezon has also won a championship for San Miguel in each of his three seasons with the team since coming on board in 2014.
He, five-time Coach of the Year winner Chot Reyes, and Perry Ronquillo are the only three individuals in PBAPC history to win the Dalupan trophy two straight seasons or more. Ronquillo was the first back-to-back winner in 1998 and 1999, before Reyes followed suit in 2002 and 2003.
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