There are several multi-titled coaches in the PBA, such as Leo Austria, Norman Black, Tim Cone, Baby Dalupan, Yeng Guiao, Chot Reyes and Jong Uichico. In this series, we identify the all-time starting five of these seven coaches, choosing from all the players each one has ever coached.
San Miguel Beermen coach Leo Austria owns one of the hottest championship streaks among bench tacticians in the PBA today.
He has won all his eight PBA championships with the San Miguel franchise dating back to the 2015 season and his success so far has earned him three PBA Coach of the Year awards.
Austria has guided the Beermen to five straight Philippine Cup titles -- a historic streak that many believe would be difficult to match.
Austria's coaching success dates back to the amateur days when he won two titles with Shark Energy Drink in the now-defunct Philippine Basketball League in 2001 and 2002. He then captured another one with Welcoat in 2003. Some of the biggest names in the PBL played under Austria like Chester Tolomia, Roger Yap, Gilbert Malabanan, Rommel Adducul, Paul Artadi, Eddie Laure, Ronald Tubid, Marc Pingris and James Yap.
After fruitless coaching stints with Shell (2004-2005) and Welcoat (2006-2007), Austria struck gold again when he steered the San Miguel Beermen to the 2013 ASEAN Basketball League championship behind ABL MVP Asi Taulava, Chris Banchero, Eric Menk, and Leo Avenido, along with imports Brian and Justin Williams.
Austria is currently tied with Chot Reyes for fifth on the all-time list of winningest PBA coaches, behind Tim Cone's 22 championships, the legendary coach Virgilio "Baby" Dalupan (15), Norman Black (11) and John Uichico (9).
Let's find out what Austria's all-time starting five would look like. But since San Miguel is the most notable team for Austria, we decided to include players he coached in other leagues as well in the selection process.
Center: 2019 June Mar Fajardo
Putting June Mar Fajardo in Austria's dream five is a no-brainer. The Cebuano big man has won six straight MVP plums, along with eight Best Player trophies, setting new records for both individual awards in the pro league that may be hard to break.
Fajardo, the top overall pick in the 2012 PBA Draft, has been a consistent double-double performer, serving as Austria's main offensive weapon and top defensive anchor during SMB's championship runs in the last five seasons.
Power forward: 2002 Marc Pingris
Marc Pingris has spent most of his 15-year PBA career with the Purefoods franchise and has won nine championships. But before turning pro, Pingris toiled under Austria at Welcoat in the PBL, winning the 2002 Challenge Cup then finishing runner-up in the 2003 Platinum Cup.
Under Austria, Pingris blossomed into a solid inside operator. He dove for loose balls and was aggressive on defense, and was also relied upon to clean up misses by his Welcoat teammates -- the same characteristics that brought him to the PBA and Gilas Pilipinas.
Small forward: 2015 Arwind Santos
Arwind Santos may not be stocky, but he's a cerebral player who uses his quickness, jumping ability and outside shooting to outwit his defender.
The 6-foot-4 Santos had already won an MVP award when Austria began coaching the Beermen in 2015. Though a star in his own right, Santos willingly took a step back to allow Fajardo to shine. He managed to contribute even if he was coming off the bench.
Nicknamed "Spiderman", the 2015 version of Arwind Santos was a solid baller who chased down opponents' shots, provided muscle in the paint and showed versatility by nailing threes.
In the 2015 Philippine Cup, Santos posted solid averages of 18.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, 2.5 blocks, 2.2 assists and 1.4 steals to lead the Beermen to a 4-3 conquest of the Alaska Aces in the title series where he earned his second Finals MVP award of his career.
Shooting guard: 2003 James Yap
James Yap earned much of his PBA accolades as the face of the Purefoods franchise during his first 12 seasons, winning all of his seven league titles, including the Grand Slam in 2014.
But not everyone would remember that Yap also played under Austria for one conference with Welcoat in the 2003 PBL Platinum Cup. Yap formed a deadly scoring combo with ex-PBA player Jercules Tangkay as they led the Paintmasters to a runner-up finish behind Fash Liquid.
Though it was just a one-conference stint before throwing his hat into the 2004 PBA Draft, Yap was already a gem of a player who made his mark as a take-charge guy. The younger Yap version had quickness and the leaping ability to soar over a defender. He was also a scoring threat, faking opponents one way before going to the other for a 3-pointer or a mid-range jump shot.
Yap sure would have won multiple PBL championships with Austria if he had decided to delay his PBA ascent.
Point guard: 2017 Chris Ross
Chris Ross had a slow start to his PBA career, spending his first four seasons with Coca-Cola/Sta. Lucia and Meralco as a role player. But when Ross arrived at Petron in October 2013 in a four-player deal, things began to unfold.
His stock rose when Austria came on board five years ago. After winning three PBA titles during the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Ross elevated his game further after churning out career-high numbers in minutes played (35.8), points (11.0), assists (7.3) and steals (2.8) in the 2017 season.
The 2017 Chris Ross version was deadly because of his ability to do damage on both ends of the floor. Ross made life difficult for opposing players with his pesky defense. He was also an excellent passer, a solid finisher coming off transition, as well as a reliable 3-point shooter.
Since 2015, Ross has made the PBA All-Defensive team each season and was named PBA Defensive Player in 2016 and 2017. He won Finals MVP awards in the 2016 and 2017 Philippine Cups, and was also named the PBA's Most Improved Player in 2017.
If we were to choose a sixth man, it would be... 2019 Terrence Romeo
Terrence Romeo is a fiery scorer because of his ability to put the ball into the hoop, but he has learned to play within the system since TNT traded him to San Miguel just before Christmas Day of 2018.
The five-time PBA All Star has a lot of individual accolades. He was a three-time PBA Scoring champion from 2015-2017, as well as a two-time Three-Point Shootout King. But we all know that all these individual awards don't mean anything unless you win a PBA championship.
What he failed to accomplish during his first five years, Romeo was able to reach during his first season with San Miguel last year. Through the guidance of Austria and his SMB "kuyas" like Ross, Santos, Alex Cabagnot, Romeo went on to win his first two championships as a pro during the 2019 Philippine Cup and Commissioner's Cup.
The dynamic combo guard was also named the 2019 Commissioner's Cup Finals MVP after averaging 14.8 points, 4.3 assists and 2.3 rebounds, helping San Miguel defeat his former team TNT in six games.
Yes, his scoring average in the Finals pales in comparison to what he has done in the past, but that hardly matters anymore as he has embraced the team-first philosophy of Austria and the Beermen.