With still over a year to go before the FIBA Basketball World Cup opens, Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is already looking forward to making the trip to the Philippines.
The Filipino-American coach joined the coaching staff of USA Basketball in July 2021, coaching the Select Team that trained with and against the players who eventually represented the United States in the Tokyo Olympic Games.
In December 2021, he was named an assistant coach to the USA national men's basketball team until 2024 -- a period that includes next year's FIBA World Cup.
"Yeah, we're going out there," Spoelstra confirmed during a media availability session at the NBA All-Star Weekend in Cleveland.
"That's one of the first things I heard about, when we talked about this next segment for Team USA, so we will be out there," he told TJ Manotoc of ABS-CBN News.
The FIBA Basketball World Cup will run from August 25 to September 10, 2023.
Spoelstra, who traces his roots to the Philippines through his mother, said he had "goosebumps" when he found out that the Philippines will co-host the World Cup.
Also set to host games are Indonesia and Japan, although the final phase of the tournament will be held in the Philippines. The Araneta Coliseum and the Mall of Asia Arena are among the venues of the competition.
"It'll be fun. I am really grateful that everybody will be able to see Manila and just the enthusiasm, worldwide, for basketball," said Spoelstra.
For Spoelstra, the event will also highlight the Philippines' famously passionate fans whose love of basketball is known worldwide.
"The fanbase there is as good as anywhere in the world, and I'm just thrilled that everybody's gonna be able to see that," said the coach.
Spoelstra coached Team Durant in the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday (Monday in Manila). They fell to Team LeBron, 163-160, with Stephen Curry exploding for 50 points built on 16 3-pointers in the game.