By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
After a failed Commissioner’s cup campaign, the San Miguel Beermen franchise made a crucial decision in their coaching staff for the upcoming 2023 PBA Governor’s Cup.
San Miguel team manager Gee Abanilla confirmed that long-time head coach Leo Austria is set to be replaced by assistant Jorge Gallent as the team’s new chief tactician last January 21, 2023.
Abanilla explained that their last-minute coaching switch in the import-laced conference was due to Austria’s request of taking a leave from his post.
The architect behind San Miguel’s dominant dynasty asked the management if he will be allowed to do a coaching sabbatical which the committee approved, the reason for Gallent’s promotion.
However, Abanilla reiterated that Austria isn’t out of the San Miguel basketball organization as he will still serve as the Beermen’s team consultant.
“Coach Leo met with management a few days ago and informed us that he wishes to take a coaching sabbatical for personal reasons starting the Governors’ Cup. We respect his decision and we understand his situation as we fully support whatever he needs,” said Abanilla.
Austria still handled the head coaching job last Commissioner’s Cup for the Beermen but missed some games including the start of the playoffs.
The PBA board headed by commissioner Willie Marcial said that Austria was placed in the league’s health and safety protocols during the last elimination week of the Commissioner’s Cup.
Gallent then took over as San Miguel’s head coach, helping them set up a semifinal clash with foreign guest team Bay Area Dragons but failed to return to the grand finals.
“To the SMB supporters, rest assured that we will continue to WORK TOGETHER and strive for a successful campaign in the Governor’s Cup onwards,” added Abanilla.