Philippine arts

From inter-barangay to UAAP: Brondial thanks Austria for break

Levi Verora
Rodney Brondial thanks coach Leo Austria, who discovered him in an inter-barangay league and gave him a chance in the UAAP.

FROM BARANGAY TO THE UAAP. Brondial credits Austria for his career.

MANILA, Philippines — As head coach Leo Austria bids farewell to his beloved Falcons by the end of the 76th UAAP basketball tournament, his players will never forget the the lessons taught to them by their ever-dedicated coach.

For senior forward Rodney Brondial, Austria was more than just a coach. He said the entire team treated him like a father for all the hardships and sacrifices he has done for the squad.

“He (Austria) is more than a coach to us. Sobrang responable at disiplinado niya,” Brondial told Rappler.

“Everytime may bagong player sa team, isa lang ang sinasabi: magaling at sobrang bait ni Coach Leo.”

From streets to jam-packed arenas

And Brondial knows his words aren’t enough to express his gratitude towards Austria, who paved the way for his transition from an inter-barangay league to the UAAP.

“Championship game noon, sa may West Avenue. Pinasok ako ng fourth quarter then nanalo kami. Doon ko nakilala si Coach Leo,” shared Brondial, who was invited by Austria to try out for a slot in the Adamson basketball team.

“That time nag-try out nako sa FEU, UE, at UST pero hindi ako natanggap. Sobrang payat ko din kasi. Sobrang thankful ako na nakilala ko siya.”

For that turning point, Brondial says all the credit goes to Austria. He could even remember when his coach gave him a pair of shoes.

“Utang na loob ko talaga kay Coach Leo. Sa tingin ko nga kay Bacon (Austria’s son) pa galing yung sapatos kasi magka-size kami.”

Players above himself

More than the lessons Austria gives during training, it’s also his unselfishness that caught the awe of his boys. Whenever the team needed support, it was their head coach who would willingly spend for the group.

“One time sa Team B, halos wala talagang support. Every Saturday nagpapaluto si Coach Leo ng pagkain para sama-sama kaming kakain after ng practice,” recalled Brondial.

Austria, the reigning ASEAN Basketball League coach of the year, prioritized his players’ needs because that is more important for him, according to Brondial.

“Lahat ‘yun sarili niyang pera. Lagi niyang inuuna ang team; minsan maski bonus niya nauubos na.”

Unexpected exit

After all the years Austria has spent building the Adamson system, his decision to call it quits caught everyone by surprise — the press, his colleagues, and most especially, his players.

After 3 playoff appearances, it was almost impossible for him to let go of a team he embraced whole-heartedly. Once the news broke out, the Falcons couldn’t hide their despair.

“Kinausap ko siya tungkol sa plano niya (na umalis). Sobrang naawa ako at naiyak ako habang kinakausap niya,” an emotional Brondial quipped.

With just two more games under his contract, Leo Austria’s departure will definitely leave his players — most especially Brondial — in tears.

Things do come to an end but his inspiring stint with the Soaring Falcons will be cherished by his boys and the rest of the Adamson community. –

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