MANILA, Philippines -- San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria was all praises for Alaska mentor Alex Compton, whom he credited for the Aces’ transformation into a disciplined, defense-first squad in the just-concluded 40th PBA season.
The Beermen swept the Aces, 4-0 in their PBA Governors Cup Finals series on Friday, but Austria admitted that the road to his second league championship as a coach didn’t come easy.
“I think makikita mo iyung transformation ng (Alaska) team and nagre-reflect iyan sa coach because their team became very competitive,” a beaming Austria said during the post-game chat with media men after San Miguel’s title-clinching 91-81 win over Alaska.
Though tagged as the favorites in the Finals, the Beermen obviously had to work for every possession in the title series, overcoming deficits in the last three games behind import Arizona Reid, big man June Mar Fajardo, Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot and Marcio Lassiter to complete a rare Finals sweep.
“Iyan (no-quit attitude) ang naging nature ng (Alaska) team this season, which is reflective of the character of coach Alex,” he said.
Unknown to many, Compton was part of Austria’s coaching staff in the 2007 and 2008 PBA season, during the early years of Welcoat (now Rain or Shine).
The American coach even played briefly as Welcoat’s second import during the Fiesta Conference.
Austria said the brief time they had at Welcoat gave him a better look Compton’s attitude to the game.
“He’s (Compton) a hardworking guy because every possession is important sa kanya. You can see that in the game. Very intense siya saka yung kanyang passion sa basketball pinapakita niya,” noted the 57-year-old San Miguel coach.
San Miguel capped the 40th season with championships in the Philippine Cup and Governors Cup, respectively.
The Beermen have won their 21st league title overall.
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