NOW that he is assuming the head-coaching job at San Miguel Beer, Leo Austria made it clear he doesn't relish the idea of sharing coaching duties with former rival Todd Purves.
Austria, who has signed a one-year deal to coach the Beermen next season, said a power-sharing arrangement has not worked well for the franchise twice in the past, pointing to the time of Rajko Toroman and Olsen Racela during the Petron days and just last season, with Purves and Biboy Ravanes.
So when Austria was asked if he sees himself doing the ‘dummy role’ to Purves in the next PBA season, Austria was quick to say no.
“Ay hindi mangyayari 'yun. Hindi mangyayari 'yun. It’s an awkward position, hindi nag-click yung ganung set-up eh, and it happened twice. Kay Rajko atsaka ngayon,” he said.
“I think it will be the decision of the management (not to let it happen again) and they know what is wrong and what is right,” he added.
Austria, however, said he will not intervene if management decides to retain Purves as San Miguel’s team consultant. Information reaching Spin.ph said the former Indonesia Warriors coach will be retained for the final year of his contract with SMC that sources said pays him US$20,000 a month.
“Walang problema sa akin 'yun (team consultant siya). Pero depende sa management 'yun, nasa kanila ang solusyon kung paano malalagyan ng chemistry ang coaching staff,” he said.
“Importante 'yun eh (na maayos ang chemistry ng coaching staff) dahil na-se-sense ng players yun eh, kung ano nangyayari sa itaas, nagre-reflect yan sa mga players … kailangan makita nila na solid ang itaas,” Austria said.
To listen to full interview with Leo Austria, click PODCAST
But is he open to working with Purves, the same coach he beat in the 2013 ABL Finals when he led San Miguel Beer to the championship?
“Wala kaming problema. Wala kaming problema,” he said.
Interestingly, Austria didn't hide his frustration when he found himself bumped off the San Miguel coaching staff in a coaching shuffle just last February that saw Purves rise to the position of 'de facto coach' with Ravanes the head coach.
Asked on how he envisions Purves' role in the team to be, Austria made his sentiments clear. “Team consultant siya, kung may problema, lalapitan. Kung hindi, eh di mainam. Ibig sabihin, maganda ang takbo ng team,” he replied.
Austria, who twice served as coach in the PBA with Shell and Welcoat, is set to meet again with the management regarding the composition of the rest of his coaching staff.
“I will meet with the management next week and the coaching staff. From there, aalamin ko strengths ng coaching staff, tapos kung may kulang dun siguro namin pa-planuhin kung magdadagdag pa,” he said.
“Kung mabibigyan ng chance 'yung mga dati kong assistant coaches, why not? Pero syempre, priority ngayon ang mga nasa team, kasi may mga live contract 'yan eh,” he said of San Miguel’s current pool of assistant coaches, namely Ravanes, Boycie Zamar, Peter Martin, Dayong Mendoza and former ABL chief referee Riel Banaria.
Austria also insisted that he has no problems with San Miguel’s coaching staff even after he was momentarily eased out of the team last season.
“Sa akin naman, ever since naman eh, wala akong problema sa kanila, especially nung assistant coach ako dahil maganda ang rapport namin at pakikitungo ko sa kanila,” he said.
“Ewan ko lang kung sila eh may problema sa akin?”