HE wasn’t fortunate enough to be handled by the legendary coach Virgilio ‘Baby’ Dalupan, but even as a player, Leo Austria aid he was already impressed with the way the late Hall of Fame coach conducted himself on the bench.
It’s not easy of course, calling the shots for star-studded teams like Crispa, Great Taste, and later on, Purefoods.
“Magtataka ka how he’s able to handle yung mga egos ng players niya. E puro superstars yun,” said Austria as he awaited his turn to receive the Dalupan Coach of the Year trophy, which serves as highlight of the 2016 PBA Press Corps Awards Night on Saturday at the Gloria Maris restaurant at Gateway Mall in Cubao.
The 58-year-old mentor was later handed the award by no less than the widow of the great mentor, Lourdes ‘Nenang’ Gaston, who came with her children to receive a special award honoring her iconic husband.
“To Baby, coaching carried a far greater responsibility than just turning out great basketball players,” stressed Mrs. Dalupan in her acceptance speech.
“His lessons in core were lessons for life. Discipline, commitment, teamwork, sportsmanship, humility, and finding joy in one’s passion.”
Austria said it was indeed, a joy watching Dalupan working on the bench, especially with the way he shuffled his players and how he matched up with the opposing teams.
“Master niya na yung mag match-up ng mga players. Alam niya kung sino ang puwede niyang ipantapat sa kalaban,” said Austria, still amazed with the skills of Dalupan despite the advent of scientific basketball during the time he was beginning to play in the pro league with Formula Shell.
“Hindi siya scientific kasi very natural yung coaching niya. And I think that makes him different from the rest,” added the San Miguel mentor, now a two-time Coach of the Year recipient.