Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra speaks to the media. Photo taken from Reuters
MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reys hopes Erik Spoelstra, the Filipino-American head coach of NBA champions Miami Heat, can extend his help to the Philippine national basketball team.
According to a report from Eddie Alinea that appeared on PhilBoxing, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Manny V. Pangilinan has e-mailed a congratulatory message to Spoelstra, and invited him to visit the country anew.
“Boss MVP (Pangilinan) sent Coach Spo a congratulatory message and at the same time, invited him to come to the country to observe the training of Gilas Pilipinas and help us in our preparations in terms of, say, give the boys a pep talk,” Reyes said.
“Wala pang sagot,” he added. “Pero I want to ask sana si Boss na mag-send uli ng message, inviting some Heat (players) to join their coach in coming here.”
After the Heat won the title last season, Spoelstra visited the country and even brought the NBA trophy to different locations in the metro. But so far, none of his players have visited the Philippines.
Reyes admitted that it was unlikely that Spoelstra can bring his “Big Three” of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to the Philippines.
“Let’s face it, medyo mahirap,” he said. “Siguro pwede na si (Ray) Allen, (Mario) Chalmers and Shane Battier and the like, who we could reinforce with members of the PBA selection to play us in a series of exhibition games.”
The national team is in a race against time to prepare for the FIBA Asia Championship this August in Manila. They returned to the country last week after a two-week training camp in Lithuania, but the team management is still trying to get tune-up games for the players.
The squad’s preparations took a hit when they were “uninvited” to the Jones Cup, which will be held in Taiwan this July.
In July 2011, during the NBA lockout, Pangilinan brought a team of NBA All-Stars to Manila to play a two-game series against a PBA selection and the Gilas Pilipinas national team.