ONE of the teams prominently featured in the first-ever Filipino Heritage Week in the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Miami Heat are taking it with much excitement and feel privileged to be part it.
Currently ongoing until March 19, the Filipino Heritage Week has The Association celebrating Philippine culture with millions of Filipino fans around the world.
As part of NBA Filipino Heritage Week, the Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors will host Filipino Heritage Nights, featuring in-arena Philippine-themed activations including musical performances and giveaways.
The Heat will be featured in two games during that stretch, taking on the New Orleans Pelicans today (Manila time) and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday.
Golden State, meanwhile, will host the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday.
“It’s pretty amazing isn’t it? You think about all the things that have changed in the NBA. To be recognized [in such a way] is pretty special,” said Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, one of the well-known NBA personalities with Filipino lineage, in videoconference with a group of local sportswriters at the Cisco Philippines office in Taguig City on Tuesday night.
“With this, I think of our first trip to the Philippines seven or eight years ago with the NBA. The offices then of the NBA there were smaller and the vision hadn’t been put in yet about how it can grow in the Philippines. We had camps and the Jr. NBA and now I look forward every summer to see the schedule and which players are going there. And now this. It’s very cool,” he added.
Mr. Spoelstra, who traces his roots to San Pablo in Laguna province, went on to say that he is appreciative of the NBA’s decision to honor Filipinos with a week-long celebration.
“At first, I thought it’s just going to be only with us. And then I found out Golden State was involved, and I found it will be around the NBA. I have goose bumps thinking about it,” said the coach who led the Heat to back-to-back NBA titles in 2012 and 2013.
“Obviously, my heritage is really important to me and my family. I’m proud being a Filipino. To be able to be recognized around the NBA is really a special thing,” added Mr. Spoelstra.
Mr. Spoelstra’s sentiments are shared by Heat guard Goran Dragic, who said he is fully aware how basketball is big in the Philippines, in a separate videoconference.
“I think it’s awesome to appreciate fans all over the world. I heard in the Philippines basketball is the number one sport and I happy that Filipinos are being honored this way. Coach Spo I know is Filipino and so is Jordan Clarkson [of the Los Angeles Lakers] and, of course, Manny Pacquiao. I haven’t been there but hopefully someday I get to go to visit the Philippines,” said Mr. Dragic, the team’s leading scorer and playmaker with averages of 20.1 points and six assists per game this season.
The three matches set for Filipino Heritage Week will be shown on local TV with the Heat-Pelican game today broadcast over Basketball TV, Heat vs. Timberwolves over ABS-CBN, Basketball TV and NBA Premium TV, and Warriors vs. Bucks over Sports + Action and Basketball TV.
Viewing parties locally are set for this weekend as well with NBA legend Glen Rice attending.
Specially designed Filipino Heritage Week shirts are also now available at all NBA Stores in Metro Manila and Cebu, Titan stores in the Fort, Conrad, and Titan Web store (www.titan22.com).