2013 NBA Finals: Heat, Spoelstra get Pinoy love
By Eddie Alinea
Sat, 08 Jun 2013
MANILA -- Filipino basketball fans are considered one of the most knowledgeable in the sport out by the fact that the
shoot-and-dribble discipline is the game they most love.
In the on-going NBA championship playoff between the defending champion Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs, Filipinos are batting for Lebron and his teammates to win, not only on the strength of their edge over the Tim Duncan-led former champs but on one significant reason – Miami coach Erik Spoelstra a Filipino-American they consider their own. Spoelstra, who will turn 43 on November 1, is the son of Irish-American Jon Spoelstra and Filipina mother Elisa Celino of San Pablo City in Laguna.
Of the 15 sports leaders and sportsmen who responded to a survey conducted by People’s Journal, 14 said they want the Heat to successfully retain the title thy won last year. Five of them, including businessman Manny V. Pangilinan, president of the Samahang Basketbol Ng Pilipinas, chess Grandmaster Eugene Torre and PBA champion coach Norman Black, favor the Heat to win because of Spoelstra.
Jimbo Saret, the only respondent to the poll who picked Spurs to win did so only because he said he is a supporter of the “underdogs.”
“Miami Heat for me, syiempre para sa Pinoy coach,” Pangilinan, MVP to business and sports sectors, said in a statement concurred in by Torre, who said, “May dugong Pinoy ang coach. Magaling at mabait.”
“I’m for Miami because I want to see coach Erik win,” Black, a long-time resident in the Philippines, for his part, said.
This same sentiment was expressed by Philippine team manager Butch Antonio and one-time PBA MVP Kenneth Duremds. Others, like
four-time MVP Alvin Patrimonio, former Purefoods buddy Jerry Codinera, current pros Arwind Santos and Beau Belga, on the other hand, picked Spoeltra’s charges to prevail on the merit of their talents, age and team strength.
Besides the presence of Spoelstra, Patrimonio believes the Heat’s deeper bench as, led by LBJ, who, he said, is the best multiple-position player nowadays.
Winning a back-to-back crown would be the biggest incentive for Miami to bring home the bacon anew this year, according to Santos, MVP in the recent PBA All-Star weekend. "In spite of their loss to the Spurs in Game 1 of the current finals, the Heat can recover as they did many times before."
“The Heat players are younger, stronger than the aging Spurs," Philippine Sports Commission chair Richie Garcia, Philippine Olympic committee first vice president Joey Romasanta and Ramon Avena, son of Far Eastern Games great Vicente Avena, chorused.
“With the way Miami survived the Indiana Pacers in seven games of their Eastern Conference finals where they played with precision with LBJ, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh leading the way, the Spurs will be no match,” Avena said.
Photo: Fil-Am Miami coach Eric Spoelstra (R) poses with PhilBoxing.com NBA section editor Homer Sayson.
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