Palace congratulates Miami Heat

Posted at 06/22/12 4:46 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Friday congratulated the Miami Heat for winning the NBA 2012 title over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that although the Office of the President did not side with any team, it is proud of the fact that the Miami Heat's coach is of Filipino descent. 

The Heat's Erik Spoelstra is the first NBA coach with Asian, particularly Filipino, blood to win a US major league sports title.

The Heat clinched their second NBA title by routing Oklahoma City 121-106 at home.

Spoelstra said coming back to win the title this year was gratifying.

"We remember last year, we wanted to make up for last year," Spoelstra said. "We had confidence in what we could do."

The Heat lost to the Dallas Mavericks, 4-2, in last year's NBA championship series.

Spoelstra in PBA

Spoelstra’s mother, Elisa Celino, is from San Pablo, Laguna. His Dutch-Irish-American father, Jon Spoelstra, worked as an executive with various NBA teams.

Reporting from Miami, ABS-CBN's TJ Manotoc said he was able to interview Erik's dad after the game. He asked him what his wife's reaction was to Miami's victory and she reportedly said, "Awesome!"

After four years as a starting guard at the University of Portland, Spoelstra briefly considered playing for the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) in 1992.

In a story by Rafe Bartholomew on Grantland, it was revealed that Spoelstra’s relatives in Laguna sent him videos of local playoff games, and that Toronto Raptors scout Jim Kelly tried to arrange for him to play in Manila.

Kelly had worked as a consultant for PBA teams in Manila and believed Spoelstra could have succeeded as a player in the PBA.

“He was multi-positional. Over there (in the PBA), he could have even been a big guy. But more than that, he was a thinking-man’s player,” said Kelly. “Probably big on heart, a little bit less on skill, and that’s why he’s a good coach.”

But Spoelstra would never play in the PBA; instead, he played for a team in Germany before getting hired as a video coordinator by the Miami Heat in 1995.

Spoelstra has visited the Philippines for the past three summers to conduct basketball clinics. In the Grantland story, Spoelstra reportedly promised that if the Heat win a title, he will bring the Larry O’Brien trophy to the Philippines. -- with reports from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News; Camille Naredo, ABS-CBNnews.com; Reuters