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Aug 12th
Home Columns JGL Eye The NBA Playoff Coach Called “Manny Pacquiao”
The NBA Playoff Coach Called “Manny Pacquiao” PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - JGL Eye
Written by Joseph G. Lariosa   
Monday, 27 April 2009 20:07


By Joseph G. Lariosa

C HICAGO, Illinois (JGLi) – Newspaper headline writers call President Obama simply as “Bam” for short as John F. Kennedy is JFK or Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is GMA or Erap for Joseph Estrada.


But in a Chicago hotel where the Miami Heat team is billeted, hotel employes call the Miami Heat team coach Erik Spoelstra as “Manny Pacquiao.”


Mr. Spoelstra, the head coach of the surging Miami Heat, may not be aware of it that hotel employes call him by the name of the Philippine boxing world champion.


But a hotel employee told me that at one time when he had the chance, he greeted Mr. Spoelstra as “Manny Pacquiao” and the head coach was described as blushing and smiling.


Nobody in the hotel knows how the “Manny Pacquiao” nickname for Mr. Spoelstra came to be. Mr. Spoelstra, at six-foot-one, is too tall for Manny, who is five-foot-six. Maybe their looks or the color of their skin might give it away. Nobody knows.


But I have a hunch, Mr. Spoelstra also wants to have a heart of a world champion, like Manny Pacquiao.


In my recent interview with Mr. Spoelstra, he admitted that “I am a Manny Pacquiao fan. I hope we are still playing in the NBA playoffs when Manny meets Ricky Hatton” (at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday, May 2nd) and “I would love to watch the fight on television.”


If Miami Heat, now with a 2-1 first-round playoffs record lead over Atlanta Hawks, will beat the Hawks on Monday, April 27, and close it out on Wednesday, April 29, they might be idle and will be waiting for their next round opponent by the time Pacquiao faces Hatton and Mr. Spoelstra should have an opportunity to watch the boxing fight on Saturday, May 2nd.


A nd even if the Hawks force Game 7 on May 3rd, the Heat will still be idle on Saturday and it will still give Mr. Spoelstra an opportunity to watch Pacquiao-Hatton on TV. “Either way, I will watch the Pacquiao-Hatton fight on TV,” Mr. Spoestra said.

The Filipino-American coach is charmed by Pacquiao’s feat as “very inspiring. Truly an electrifying fighter that is inspiring a whole country; and you can feel that excitement.”

When asked for a prediction for the winner between Pacquiao and Hatton, Mr. Spoelstra exclaimed, “Absolutely, I am rooting for Pacquiao!”

If Miami Heat get past the first round, the second round and return to the NBA Finals for only the second time, it will be by mid-June.

By all appearances, the debut of Mr. Spoelstra as an NBA head coach is already adjudged a success after coming off only with a 15-win game last year that denied them a spot in the playoffs.

He guided the Heat to win 43 games, a 28-game improvement, and a spot in the playoffs this year as a rookie coach.

Erik is the son of an Irish-American father, Jon Spoelstra, a long-time NBA executive, who has guided the Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets and New Jersey Nets, and a Filipino American mother, Elisa Celino, who lived in San Pablo, Laguna.

His mother is a retired school teacher while his father still works in sports marketing as consultant. His elder sister, Monica, is in public relations and marketing and is a short story writer.

Erik, who was born in Chicago’s suburban Evanston, Illinois, visited the Philippines when he was three-years old. He stayed there for about a month, traveling all over the Philippines.

He loves lumpia (egg roll) and rice. He doesn’t speak Tagalog, his mother’s mother tongue.


D uring the off-season, Mr. Spoelstra plans to hold a basketball clinic in the
Philippines on behalf of the NBA. He believes Filipinos have potential to play in the NBA. Perhaps, during this clinic, he can have Mr. Manny Pacquiao as guest. Mr. Pacquiao plays pick-up basketball when he is not working out.

A proud Filipino nation is behind Mr. Spoelstra during the NBA playoffs.
When Miami Heat president Pat Riley, one of NBA’s legendary coaches, stepped down last year as head coach last year, he anointed the 38-year-old Spoelstra as his successor and the 14th coach of the team.

“I believe Erik Spoelstra is one of the most talented young coaches who are technologically skilled, innovative and bring fresh new ideas. That’s what we feel we are getting with Erik Spoelstra. He’s a man who was born to coach," said Mr. Riley.

Mr. Spoelstra over-achieved Pat Riley’s prophecy when he took the Miami Heat to the playoff this year.

Mr. Spoelstra was lured as player-coach of German professional team Tus Herten for two years. It was right after he graduated from the University of Portland with a degree in communications in 1992.

“I would have been playing in the Philippines if I were not playing in Germany," said the 38-year old bachelor, who was long-time resident of Portland, Oregon and is now a resident of Miami, Florida.

Go, Pacquiao! Go, Miami Heat! ( # # #  
Last Updated on Monday, 27 April 2009 20:19
Comments (2)
1 Thursday, 30 April 2009 07:35
JGL, I've just read your story on the Miami Heat coach. My friend, this is a good story. Simple but well-written. It's journalism to its core! You're a pro. You should conduct those seminars and classes yourself that you and Lourdes Ceballos have talked about in your e-mails to each other. You've got a lot to impart, that's for sure.

Ka Jesse
2 Friday, 01 May 2009 15:29
Hi, Ka Jesse:

Coming from a fine writer like you, your complimentary comments cannot be any better.
Take care.

Joseph G. Lariosa

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