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Austria shares best moments in stay with SMB

Coach Leo Austria thinks his Philippine Cup titles are the most memorable. Dennis Acosta (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

QUEZON CITY--The year 2017 is a historic one for Coach Leo Austria.

He helped steer San Miguel to a rare three-peat in the PBA Philippine Cup, becoming only the second permanent recipient of the Jun Bernardino Perpetual Trophy.

He also came close to a grand slam while leading the way for Junemar Fajardo, who captured his fourth straight MVP award.

No wonder why the PBA Press Corps named him the Coach of the Year during the PBA Press Corps Awards on Thursday night at the Gloria Maris Restaurant inside Gateway Mall.

Asked by some reporters, however, Austria revealed his three best moments in his stint with the Beermen.

1. Austria's first championship

He first talked about his first pennant, the 2015 Philippine Cup title in which SMB needed seven games to beat Alaska.

"Yun yung time na ina-assess nila ako kung I'm ready to coach a top team," he described what was like during that series.

2. The "Beeracle"
In a feat never even done in the NBA, San Miguel rallied from 0-3 down. PBA Media Bureau (file photo)
Same conference, same Finals opponent, same result, but a different--and more memorable at that--story.

The Beermen became the first team in all of professional basketball to come back from 0-3 down to win a championship, doing so in the 2016 Philippine Cup Finals against the same Aces squad, which was actually four minutes away from sweeping the round.

[Related Story: HISTORIC WIN | San Miguel completes epic comeback to beat Alaska for PBA PH Cup title]

3. The three-peat
The three-peat secured the current San Miguel squad in the place of the league's most dominant teams ever.
He then mentioned the completion of the three-peat against Ginebra last March.

"It's the first time na may coach na nanalo ng triple All-Filipino [Cup] crown," Austria explained why it was memorable.

He thinks the Philippine Cup three-peats made his own three-peat in the Coach of the Year award possible.

"Without these championships, hindi ko makukuha itong Perpetual Trophy," Austria said. "Lahat sila ay deeper in character kasi may kanya-kanyang story."

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno