MANILA, Philippines – Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra watched Game 5 of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors Cup Finals and came away impressed with the physicality of the league.
Game 5 saw the B-Meg Derby Ace Llamados defeat the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 91-81, to remain alive in their best-of-seven Finals series.
“Last night’s game was very exciting,” said Spoelstra during a press conference Thursday at the Marriott Hotel. “I hope the series goes seven games. I can’t root for one team, I just hope it goes seven games.”
“I wasn’t rooting for either team. I do have a friendship with (B-Meg coach) Tim Cone, but I just hope it goes to seven games,” he added.
Spoelstra said what he will remember most about last night’s game was its physicality.
“In terms of what I noticed about last night, no question about it, if I could limit it to one word: physicality,” he said.
“Coach Spo” said that when he was considering playing in the PBA, he was warned about the physical play in the league.
“But it was great to see,” he added. “I like to see the passion in the players.”
Spoelstra joked that if he could have taped up his ankles and put on knee braces, he would have joined the game last night. “It looked like a lot of fun,” he said.
“The PBA is an excellent league,” Spoelstra added “Anybody who loves playing the game would love to play in an enviroment like the one I saw last night.”
Spoelstra is visiting the Philippines for the fourth time, but this time he brought with him the NBA’s Larry O’Brien championship trophy.
Spoelstra made history last June when he became the first Filipino-American coach to lead his team to an NBA championship. The Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games to win their second title in franchise history.