THE third time’s a charm for Leo Austria as the San Miguel mentor ran away anew with the Coach of the Year Award to be handed out by the PBA Press Corps in its 24th Awards Night on Thursday at the Gloria Maris Restaurant inside the Gateway Mall of the Araneta Center in Cubao.
For winning the award three straight seasons, Austria will now get to permanently keep the beautifully crafted Virgilio ‘Baby’ Dalupan trophy named in honor of the late great ‘Maestro’ of coaching.
Austria, 59, is the first-ever coach to achieve the feat since the group of sportswriters from the various daily broadsheets, tabloids, and sports website began handing out the award in 1993.
He bested veteran Barangay Ginebra counterpart Tim Cone, TnT Katropa’s Nash Racela, and Chito Victolero for the highest individual award to be given during the formal gathering presented by Cignal TV.
Austria, who played nine seasons in the league from 1985 to 1993, steered the Beermen to the Philippine Cup and Commissioner’s Cup championships, respectively, and came just a title short of completing a rare grand slam in the just concluded 42nd PBA season.
The native of Sariaya, Quezon has also won a championship for San Miguel in each of his three seasons with the team since coming on board in 2014.
He, five-time Coach of the Year winner Chot Reyes, and Perry Ronquillo are the only individuals in PBAPC history to win the Dalupan trophy two straight seasons or more. Ronquillo was the first back-to-back winner in 1998 and 1999, before Reyes followed suit in 2002 and 2003.
Likewise, the San Miguel coach is one of seven multiple winners of the award together with Reyes (5), Cone (3), Yeng Guiao (2), Jong Uichico (2), Ryan Gregorio (2), and Ronquillo (2).
San Miguel Corp. president and chief executive officer Ramon S. Ang will also have a share of the spotlight on this special night as the recipient of the Executive of the Year award named after the late Crispa team owner Danny Floro.
In all, 10 awards are set to be handed out including the William ‘Bogs’ Adornado Comeback Player of the Year to Kelly Williams of TnT Katropa, the Mighty Sports Defensive Player of the Year on San Miguel’s Chris Ross, and Mr. Quality Minutes to Jio Jalalon of Star.
A first time award to be given is the Game of the Season, which goes to the Governors Cup match-up between Barangay Ginebra and Star held last Sept. 3, and which the Kings won in overtime, 105-101.
Completing the list of awardees are Terrence Romeo (Mighty Sports Scoring Champion), LA Tenorio (Order of Merit), Roger Pogoy, Jalalon, Matthew Wright, Kevin Ferrer, and Reden Celda (All-Rookie team, and coach Tim Cone, Jayson Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo, Marc Pingris, Beau Belga, and Tenorio (All-Interview team).
During the formal affair to be hosted by Sev Sarmenta and Rizza Diaz, the official PBAPC Facebook page will also be launched.