LEO Austria has just renewed his partnership with San Miguel Beer.
On Saturday, Austria confirmed he signed a one-year contract to coach the Beermen in time for the 40th season of the Philippine Basketball Association that kicks off this October.
The surprising development came following his unceremonious exit he had with the SMC franchise midway through last season, so much so that he was shocked when the coaching job was offered to him by management.
“I’m very thankful sa opportunity na binigay sa akin,” said Austria. “Nagpapasalamat ako kay Sir RSA (Ramon S. Ang), Sir Robert Non, and Alfrancis Chua na binigyan nila ako ng magandang pagkakataon.”
Austria admitted being stunned after being given another opportunity by San Miguel to return to the franchise.
“Na-surprise talaga ako dahil may naririnig ako na mawala ka dito, hindi ka makakabalik. Pero I did nothing wrong. Tinanggap nila ako as a coach, hindi naman ako after sa contract. Gusto ko lang mapakita kung anong meron ako,” he said.
Aside from being an assistant coach with Petron/San Miguel, Austria led the Beermen to the 2013 Asean Basketball League (ABL) crown and was named the best coach of the league the same year.
Austria last handled a PBA team when he called the shots for Welcoat/Rain or Shine franchise from 2006 to 2008.
He said he’ll still meet with management next week about the composition of his coaching staff even as he didn’t specify the current status of active consultant Todd Purves to the team.
“Next week, pag-uusapan namin ‘yun. Competent naman ‘yung coaching staff ngayon. Bigyan lang ng tamang pagkakataon na makapagsalita sila,” said Austria.
As to Purves, Austria said: “Pag-uusapan namin ‘yun next week. Whatever happens, nothing personal.”