By Jonas Terrado
Another banner season by the San Miguel Beermen resulted in another Coach of the Year award for Leo Austria.
Austria earned the prestigious honor handed by the PBA Press Corps for the fourth time in the last five years after steering the Beermen to two championships during the 2019 campaign.
The 62-year-old edged Barangay Ginebra San Miguel counterpart Tim Cone for the award named after the late great Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan.
But Austria will have to play the waiting game before he can take home the Baby Dalupan trophy as the Press Corps will have to wait for the COVID-19 pandemic to end before it can set a date.
The annual awards was supposed to be held last March 16 at Novotel Manila in Araneta City, Cubao.
Austria once again took the distinction as the PBA’s best coach by the men and women who regularly cover the pro loop after guiding SMB to its fifth straight Philippine Cup title and a second Commissioner’s Cup crown in three seasons.
He previously won three straight Coach of the Year awards from 2015 to 2017, thus giving him permanent ownership of the original Dalupan trophy.
But San Miguel fell short in the season-ending Governors’ Cup, losing to Cone and Ginebra in the quarterfinals.
Cone was put in consideration when he coached Ginebra to the Governors’ Cup title last January. It was the American mentor’s 22nd championship, the most in PBA history.
Austria broke his stalemate with Cone and Ryan Gregorio for second with his fourth Coach of the Year while moving one shy of tying Chot Reyes for most all-time.
Other Coach of the Year winners were Yeng Guiao, Perry Ronquillo and Jong Uichico with two apiece and Derrick Pumaren, Ron Jacobs, Siot Tanquincen, Boyet Fernandez, Luigi Trillo and Chito Victolero with one each.