• Coach Austria relishes back-to-back victories

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    San Miguel Beer head coach Leo Austria considered their victory in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup sweeter than their triumph in the Governors’ Cup. The Beermen, under Austria, beat the Alaska Aces on both occasions.

    Austria, who assumed his post as head coach early this season, gave the Beermen their first Philippine Cup title after 14 years when they beat the Aces, 80-78, in a highly physical Game Seven in January.

    The two teams met again in the Governors’ Cup best-of-seven finals last Friday. San Miguel Beer established a comfortable 3-0 lead before sweeping the series.

    “I just can’t believe it that we swept them,” Austria, a former head coach of Adamson University in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines, told The Manila Times in an interview on Friday. “But if you will ask me what’s the sweetest title between the two, it’s the Philippine Cup.”

    “Until the last shot, you have no any idea which team will win and that’s our first title after 14 years,” he added. “It was a hard-earned victory and at the same time we experienced a lot of pressures from that series if I remember.”

    Austria, who also coached San Miguel Beer’s team in the Asean Basketball League in 2014, added that the Governors’ Cup was very important to them despite the easy win.

    “What made this special was we started at 0-2 in the elimination round and that Meralco beat us once in the quarterfinal round. In the semifinals, luckily we beat Rain or Shine and they were one of the reasons why we became mature.”

    The San Miguel Beermen were eliminated in the Commissioners’ Cup making them one conference short of winning a grand slam. Talk ‘N Text won the Commissioners’ Cup title.

    Austria also congratulated Alaska’s coach Alex Compton for inspiring them to work hard.

    “Alaska made us to work hard this season. They served as our barometer. Congrats also to them.”

    Import Arizona Reid, who lost to Alaska import Romeo Travis by a slim vote for the Best Import Award, said that he plans to stay a little longer in the country with his family before returning to the United States.

    “I’m still here for a vacation with my family. I’ll be around until August and I will enjoy everything first before going back to US. Time to savor this championship.”

    This was Reid’s first PBA championship title in five conferences. He was a player of Rain or Shine before.

    Meanwhile, back-to-back Most Valuable Player award winner June Mar Fajardo said that his quest for learning and improvement continues.

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