By Ivan Saldajeno
QUEZON CITY--For Coach Leo Austria, San Miguel's third consecutive PBA Philippine Cup title will be the one many basketball fans will remember about him.
"For me, this is the highlight of my career, because there are only two teams na nakakuha nitong three-peat," Austria told the media after the Beermen took home for good the Jun Bernardino Trophy, the reward for a team that will complete the rare feat, on Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
He even thinks it is tougher to win the first conference title and successfully defend it twice than to vie for the season treble, more popularly known as the "grand slam".
"It's really hard to win three [straight] championships in the All-Filipino (Cup, the conference's former name) unlike the grand slam. Si Coach Tim [Cone], naka-dalawa. Si Coach Norman [Black], naka-isa. Even si Coach Baby Dalupan, meron. This is harder than the grand slam," Austria continued.
He even believes the Philippine Cup three-peat weighs way more value than all of his previous championships combined.
"I won a lot of championships in my career before going to the PBA. But nandito lahat ng mga magagaling na players at coaches at pinapanood ng maraming tao," Austria further said.
What makes SMB's three-peat more special is that the team accomplished it without replacing him, unlike TNT's peat in 2011-13, when Black had to take over the role left by Chot Reyes, who steered the team to the first two plums but had to leave to focus on his Gilas stint, and finished the job for the team.
In a separate interview, he admitted that he has no idea that he just pulled it off.
"I'm so happy with that. Wala na akong masabi," he picked up from the reminder.
Austria, meanwhile, has San Miguel Corporation president Ramon Ang to thank for the opportunity to coach the league's winningest franchise.
"Lahat nang nangyayari sa akin at utang na loob ko kay RSA dahil siya talaga ang nagbigay sa akin ng kumpiyansa," he further said.
Austria summed up everything with just three words: "God is good."
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