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    What makes Leo Austria tick? Son Bacon shares insights on character of SMB's 'Mr. Fix It'

    Dec 29, 2014
    SMB coach Leo Austria never comes to a game unprepared, says son Bacon. Jaime Campos

    BACON Austria fondly recalled his Ateneo days when his dad, Adamson coach Leo, would always be at ringside to watch him play. Or maybe to scout the Blue Eagles.

    Now he's no longer sure.

    “Kunwari siguro pinapanood niya ako, pero ang totoo, nag-iiscout siya,” Bacon said in jest.

    If those hours in the stands were for scouting, these certainly bore fruit. Leo Austria never won a championship with Adamson, but he engineered one of the biggest upsets in the UAAP in 2011 when he led the Falcons to a famous win over the Blue Eagles.

    That win ended the Falcons' 29-game losing streak to the Blue Eagles spanning 14 years, and prevented Ateneo from completing a sweep of the elimination round.

    For the proud son, that win also spoke volumes of what makes his dad click as a coach. Leo Austria doesn't always have the best players, the son said, but the coach never comes to a game unprepared.

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    “Kita talaga sa bahay. Minsan, bago ako umalis ng umaga para mag-practice ng mga 7 a.m., nakikita ko nag-rereview na siya ng game ng Talk ‘N Text," Bacon said.

    "Bawat practice at laro, prepared talaga siya kaya nung year na ‘yun na tinalo nila kami, ready talaga siya para sa game na ‘yun."

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    Despite all that, Bacon said he was still surprised to see his dad lead San Miguel Beer to the PBA Philippine Cup Finals right in his first conference as head coach.

    “Siyempre, masaya ako para sa Daddy ko kahit nasa ibang team ako, nadala niya sa finals ‘yung San Miguel sa first conference niya,” the Blackwater reserve told Spin.ph on Monday.

    The former Ateneo player said he had his doubts when dad took over the Beermen, a team with a long history of playoff failures amid reports of rancor among players.

    “Sa totoo lang, nung start, medyo hindi ko alam kung kakayanin niya kasi ‘yung players from the past seasons, hindi daw nagkakasundo tapos naririnig mo, may problema daw,” Bacon said. “Pero nung nakita ko ‘yung team nung eliminations, confident ako na aabot naman siya sa finals.

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    “Knowing my Dad, sanay siya sa mga ganung klase ng teams na nagagawan niya ng paraan ‘yung mga problema,” said Bacon of his father, who guided the San Miguel franchise to an Asean Basketball League crown in 2013.

    For Bacon, the ability of his father to turn a team's fortunes around can be attributed to his tough childhood.

    Without elaborating, Bacon shared his dad's stories of how he had to work for everything since his parents weren’t always around when he was growing up.

    All the hard work eventually paid off for the Sariaya, Quezon native after a young Leo Austria was drafted by Shell in the 1985 draft. He eventually became the PBA's Rookie of the Year.

    “Kine-kuwento niya na since high school daw, palipat-lipat siya ng tirahan tapos hindi talaga siya lumaki sa parents niya. Hindi ganun kadali ‘yung naranasan niya. Pinaghirapan niya talaga lahat ng mga narating niya,” said Bacon.

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    “Siguro sa buhay niya, marami rin siyang problema noon. Pero para sa kanya, lahat ng problema, may solusyon,” he added.

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    SMB coach Leo Austria never comes to a game unprepared, says son Bacon. Jaime Campos
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