Some of the readers of this paper may wonder why stories on the run-up to Game 7 of the NBA Finals have been landing on Page 1.
The answer is simple. Filipinos remain basketball fanatics and the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals is considered the world championship of the sport. Beyond this is the fact that this year’s championship series has been truly outstanding.
Go to Facebook and Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs fans exchange animated messages about their teams. Some trade very personal insults, but that’s how basketball fanatics are, be they Filipino, American, or Fil-Am.
Neither team has the edge in terms of manpower or coaching, but because the last game will be played in Miami, the Heat should be slight favorites to take the title. Home court advantage and all that…
Both teams, of course, have their Philippine connections. The Heat’s head coach is Fil-Am Erik Spoelstra, who has visited the country on several occasions and is proud of his Filipino heritage. There have been a number of Fil-Ams who have stepped up in the world stage of late, but Spo can be considered as one of the most successful.
On the Spurs’ side, they have as their shooting coach Chip Engelland, who donned the National colors while playing for Danding Cojuangco’s Northern Cement team. Chip came close to being a Filipino citizen through naturalization, but ended up heading back to the States when his Philippine Basketball Association days were over. There he trained some of the top shooters of the NBA.
Today (Friday), one of the two gents will be one happy dude. Ditto for the hundreds of thousands of Fil-Ams in either Miami or Texas.
Either the Heat win a back-to-back championship, or the Spurs will earn their fourth— and probably last—title in the Tim Duncan-Manu Ginobili-Tony Parker era.
The Spurs’ Big Three have been engaged in a seesaw series against their Heat counterparts LeBron James-Chris Bosh-Dwayne Wade.
The Philippines may not come to a dead stop when Game 7 is played the way it does whenever Manny Pacquiao fights, but countless eyes and ears will be glued to the live telecast of the NBA championship.
Fact is, we may be watching one of the best NBA Finals of all time, and the very last winner-take-all game should see all the players throw everything they’ve got to win the crown.
In stark contrast, the PBA barely hit the front pages the last time a team – was it Alaska? – won a conference title. It may be unfair to compare any of the PBA teams and players to the top stars of the Heat and the Spurs, but there can be no denying that the Asia’s first pro cage league is no longer as exciting as it was in its early days.
For this reason, Pinoy basketball fans have switched their loyalty and attention to the NBA, and have been rewarded with a championship series for the ages.
Now excuse me as I give my last word on the NBA Finals: Go Heat!