Austria bests Cone for 4th PBA Coach of the Year award

Leo Austria San Miguel Beermen

San Miguel Beer head coach Leo Austria. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — Winning championships has become a habit for Leo Austria.

And so does bagging the Coach of the Year award.

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For the fourth time in the last five years, the San Miguel mentor will be the recipient of the prestigious plum named after the late great Virgilio ‘Baby’ Dalupan in the annual PBA Press Corps Awards night.

The 62-year-old Austria edged Barangay Ginebra’s Tim Cone for the honor.

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Austria’s crowning moment, however, will have to wait as the awarding rite, originally scheduled last March 16 at the Novotel Manila in Araneta Center, remains postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus disease pandemic.

Austria, the PBA Rookie of the Year in 1985, clinched the award, annually given by the men and women who regularly cover the PBA beat, after guiding San Miguel to back-to-back championships in the 2019 season, including a record fifth straight crown in the Philippine Cup.

Following their title triumph in the Commissioner’s Cup, the Beermen were in line for a rare grand slam, but faltered in the homestretch of the Governors Cup won by Cone and the Kings.

But there was no denying Austria, who’s won eight championships since taking over San Miguel’s helm in 2014, of winning the award anew.

Austria made history three years ago when he became the first to win the Coach of the Year honor for three consecutive seasons and earned the right to keep the Perpetual Trophy – first given in 1993 – permanently.

His streak came to an end in 2018 when he lost to Magnolia’s Chito Victolero.

With four Coach of the Year plums, Austria is now in solo second place in the all-time list after breaking the tie with Cone and Ryan Gregorio.

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Chot Reyes, the former national team mentor, is on top with five.

Other multiple winners are Yeng Guiao, Jong Uichico, and Perry Ronquillo, all with two each for a tie at No. 4.

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