LEO Austria was named Asean Basketball League (ABL) Coach of the Year for leading San Miguel to the best record heading to the playoffs - a feat highlighted by the Beermen establishing the longest winning streak in league history.
The soft-spoken Filipino mentor got the nod of majority of the team tasked to vote for the season-ending awards.
Austria’s selection was a no-brainer.
The Beermen finished their elimination round campaign with a 19-3 overall record, spiked by a 16-game winning streak – the longest in the four-year history of the fledgling regional league.
Under Austria, the Beermen also set a league mark for the most lopsided victory following a 101-49 rout of the Saigon Heat last April.
“Coach Leo Austria was at the top of his profession all season long, and this award is no surprise,” said ABL CEO Anthony Macri in a statement.
“A great blend of tactician and motivator, Coach Austria’s understated approach was a strong influence on his players, and we are lucky to have him here in the ASEAN Basketball League.”
Austria, who previously won a Coach of the Year plum in the defunct Philippine Basketball League, said he is happy to have won the award, but stressed things will be sweeter if the Beermen win this year’s ABL crown.
“I’m more inspired to work harder but the championship is more important to me,” Austria said in an SMS message to Spin.ph from Bangkok, where the Beermen are set to face the Sports Rev Thailand Slammers in Game Three of their best-of-five semifinals on Tuesday.
The series is tied at one-game apiece.
Aside from San Miguel, Austria is also coaching Adamson in the UAAP where he led the Falcons to the Final Four in 2011 as the second-seeded team.
He also helped the Adamson-backed Freego Jeans to a second-place finish in the 2011 PBA D-League Aspirants Cup.
Other awards to be announced by the ABL in the coming days are World Import MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, and the Asean MVP award, to be given to the best Southeast Asian player regardless of whether he is an import or local in the team he plays for.
San Miguel guard Chris Banchero is a strong candidate to win the Asean MVP award.