MANILA – San Miguel Beermen head coach Leo Austria said the youth in his hometown Sariaya should not give up on their dreams despite the Covid-19 pandemic as he is confident the presence of San Miguel Corporation (SMC) will boost basketball in Quezon province and produce fresh talents who will eventually make it to the collegiate leagues and the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
Austria, the PBA rookie of the year awardee in 1985, said that living in the province did not deter him from moving forward as a player and coach in the Philippine Amateur Basketball League (PABL) and the PBA.
“Ang sabi ko nga sa mga bata, ako nga na tagarito sa Sariaya ay nagsikap at umabot sa PBA. Kaya’t kaya rin nila basta magsikap sila at malaking blessing na nandito na ang San Miguel sa Sariaya (I told the kids, I am from here Sariaya who worked hard to reach PBA. So they can also do it if they will also work hard and San Miguel Beer will be a blessing for them that we are here in Sariaya),” Austria said in a news release on Thursday.
Austria, along with PBA legend Alvin Patrimonio, joined Sariaya local officials led by Mayor Marcelo Gayeta and Quezon clergy led by Lucena Bishop Mel Rey Uy during the recent inauguration of the new facilities of the 5.4-hectare San Miguel-Christian Gayeta Homes, which include a covered and concrete basketball court, livelihood center, e-library, and children’s learning center.
Austria reiterated his thanks to SMC president and COO Ramon S. Ang for taking care of 127 families who relocated to the PHP352 million sustainable housing community from the risky coastal areas of Sariaya.
“Being in San Miguel changed my life. Ang sabi ko sa mga kababayan ko ay nagpakita ng malasakit ang San Miguel and ni Boss RSA [SMC president and COO Ramon S. Ang] nung lockdown at hanggang ngayon ay maaasahan nila yun. Magkakaroon ng trabaho at makakatulong sa income ng local government units ang pagtatayo ng negosyo ng San Miguel sa Sariaya (I told the youth that San Miguel and Boss RSA have shown care for them during lockdown up to know. San Miguel’s move to put up business here in Sariaya provided employment and added income for local government units),” Austria said.
Upon learning that SMC’s housing community has a concrete basketball court, Austria said he would have wanted to conduct basketball clinics for children. But that will have to wait as existing quarantine restrictions prohibit team-oriented sports activities.
“Maraming kabataan sa pinatayong subdivision ng San Miguel. Kapag nawala na siguro ang pandemya at meron nang vaccine ay puwede na tayong magkaroon ng mga clinics dito para sa sports development nila at ma-boost ulit yung basketball sa Sariaya (Many young people are living San Miguel subdivision. After pandemic and we have already vaccines, we can conduct clinics here for sports development and to boost again the basketball in Sariaya,” he said.
Playing basketball as a teenager in Sariaya evokes happy memories for Austria.
“Nag-umpisa ako ng volleyball sa St. Francis High School but madalas na ko sa intrams [intramurals] noon bago ako napunta sa basketball nung junior at senior year (I started as volleyball player at St. Francis High School and I’ve been competing in intramurals before I joined basketball at my junior and senior years),” he said.
Austria said that he hopes more Quezon-based players can make it to the collegiate and professional leagues.
SMC is set to build a modern, state-of-the-art integrated agro-industrial complex in Sariaya, Quezon that will include a brewery, grains terminal and feedmill, a ready-to-eat food manufacturing plant, fuel tank farm, and port facilities.
Each housing unit in the community, built under Housing Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) standards, has a lot area of 54 square meters that can fit a bedroom, toilet and bathroom, kitchen, dining area, and loft capability. The community also has an overhead water tank with 136,000-liter capacity, a dedicated sewage treatment plant made of natural reed beds, park, daycare center, and playground garden. (PNA)