Austria: No doubting Thomas

HARRY HOW/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE THOMAS Robinson is expected to lead San Miguel Beer to the PBA Commissioner’s Cup title.

Leo Austria is pinning his hopes on Thomas Robinson, hoping that he has what it takes to lead them to the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup title.

In the latest episode of The Athletes’ Tribune, the nine-time PBA champion coach said he hopes the powerful former fifth-round pick in the 2012 National Basketball Association Rookie Draft will absorb their winning culture and lead them to the title.

“I always look for a do-it-all import who can score and play defense. Getting an import who has been a proven winner is a big plus and, sometimes, there are those that aren’t too stellar, but will definitely give you a championship,” Austria told host Nikki Viola a day after leading the Beermen to the Philippine Cup crown.

“We don’t need someone can only score because we have high expectations on our import.”

Austria is no stranger to handling big-time imports.

In fact, he mentored Shabbaz Muhammad, the 14th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, in the previous Governors’ Cup.

Although Muhammad was a livewire on offense, in which he erupted for 57 points in an eliminations game against Meralco, he still failed to get the job done as they were sent packing in the quarterfinals.

On the other hand, their sister team — Barangay Ginebra San Miguel — won the crown using an old reliable in Justin Brownlee.

But Robinson is a different talent as he is coming in with stellar credentials and as the highest NBA draft pick to ever play in the league since 1987 third overall pick Dennis Hopson suited up for Purefoods in 1996.

Austria said he doesn’t doubt Robinson’s ability to lead them back to the title.

The former Los Angeles Lakers stalwart was supposed to arrive in the country earlier, but the death of his father hampered his schedule.

Now, he is set to fly in this week and is tipped to join June Mar Fajardo and Vic Manuel in manning the shaded lanes for the Beermen.

“We’ve been communicating with him for three months. He wanted to watch us in the Philippine Cup finals but wasn’t able to come sooner because his father died,” Austria said.

“He has to stick with the schedule of the funeral before going here. We expect him to arrive and in a few days, he will be with us. The good thing is that he is well-conditioned going into the conference.”


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