MANILA, Philippines – Leo Austria is in seventh heaven right now after winning his seventh PBA championship as coach, and he has nothing but praise for his players who made it all possible.
Austria became a part of history as San Miguel completed its bid for a historic fifth straight Philippine Cup championship by outlasting Magnolia in a seven-game finals series that had to be settled until the final second.
"I'm so thankful for those players because we have a lot of struggles and now, we're winning a lot [and becoming part] of history. Dahil sa kanila nagmukha akong magaling na coach," Austria told reporters.
(I'm so thankful for those players because we have a lof of struggles and now, we're winning a lot and becoming part of history. Because of them, I look like a good coach.)
"I never thought that I would become a PBA coach. And I never thought that I would become a San Miguel coach. I never thought that we would win five-peat under my tutelage. But God is really good."
The Beermen were almost denied of their place in the PBA annals as the Hotshots enjoyed a 17-point lead midway through the winner-take-all Game 7 on Wednesday, May 15.
But ever the composed team that it is, San Miguel fought back and dug itself out of the hole before putting the shackles on Magnolia in the final minute to hack out the thrilling 72-71 win.
"This championship is really special because a lot of people are thinking na dynasty will be broken. But sabi nga nila, there's no forever. At itong dynasty will not [stay] forever eh," Austria said.
(This championship is really special because a lot of people are thinking that our dynasty will be broken. But just like people say, nothing stays forever. And our dynasty will not stay forever.)
"But we're so thankful we're able to get this five-peat and with a lot of pride sa players dahil laging sinasabi na this is the legacy of our team. Hanggang pagtanda nila maalaala nila ito, and I'm happy for them."
(But we're so thankful we're able to get this five-peat and with a lot of pride from our players because we've always said that this is our team's legacy. Until they all grow old, they will remember this, and I'm happy for them.)
The 61-year-old tactician has just one wish for the PBA record the Beermen set.
"I don't think this will be broken in the near future. But sabi ko nga eh, a record is always there to be broken eh. But I hope na habang nabubuhay kami na huwag muna," he said with a hearty laugh.
(I don't think this will be broken in the near future. But like I said, a record is always there to be broken. But I hope that while we're still alive, it doesn't get broken.) – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.