LUCENA - Leo Austria doesn't have a winning record playing in his hometown, but he's keeping his fingers crossed the curse will finally end during the Luzon stop of the PBA All-Star Week on Friday.
Banking on what he termed as a truly 'star-studded' roster, the soft-spoken coach from Sariaya, Quezon shoots for a victory with his Luzon All-Star team against Gilas Pilipinas in their 7 p.m. encounter at the Quezon Convention Center.
"Another homecoming. Hindi pa ako nananalo sa lugar namin," said Austria with a big laugh on Thursday when he met his team for the first time.
"I hope this All-Star (game), manalo kami."
His San Miguel team has lost two games played in this southern city. The first was in Game Three of the 2016 Philippine Cup finals against Alaska, the other was Game Two of the all-Filipino finals versus Barangay Ginebra early this year.
But Austria believes the law of averages of eventually prevail.
"Hindi naman puwedeng laging talunan," he said. "May highs and lows yan, e. Baka this is my time."
Aside for aiming for a breakthrough win in his home province, San Miguel's champiom coach also wants to give Gilas a good fight as it prepares for next month's Southeast Asia Basketball Association (Seaba) Championship in Manila.
The national team drew with the Mindanao All-Star selection on Wednesday night in Cagayan de Oro City, 114-all in the opener of the three-leg All-Star spectacle.
"I told the players that we should be serious in our game because that's the only way we can help the Gilas team," he stressed.
"It's an exhibition game, but we want to win," he added. "I hope we could help the national team by playing in this All-Star. I will tell the team to play seriously for them to realize ano meron sila."
Austria has a deep arsenal at his disposal.
Aside from San Miguel players Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, and Alex Cabagnot, the Luzon All-Stars also boast of Calvin Abueva, Jayson Castro, LA Tenorio, Paul Lee, Mark Caguioa, Japeth Aguilar, Ranidel de Ocampo, Stanley Pringle, and Jay Washington, a last-minute replacement for Marc Pingris.
The Gilas roster meanwhile, will be bannered by Raymund Almazan, Allein Maliksi, Kevin Ferrer, Mike Tolomia, Ed Daquioag, Carl Bryan Cruz, Bradwyn Guinto, Jonathay Grey, Almond Vosotros, Norbert Torres, and Arnold Van Opstal.
The final 12-man roster of the national team to the Seaba championship in Manila will be announced by coach Chot Reyes after the game.