"To PNoy, Best wishes!"
This was the message of Filipino-American coach of the champion Miami Heat team, Erik Spoelstra on the visor of the autographed championship cap he gave to President Benigno S. Aquino III, according to Assistant Secretary Renato Marfil of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO).
Aquino received the black and gray Miami Heat's Official 2012 National Basketball Association (NBA) Champions Locker Room Snap Back Adjustable hat last Friday, Marfil said in a text message.
Spoelstra reportedly sent the cap through ABS-CBN sportscaster TJ Manotoc who covered the recent NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Malacañang did not want to take sides in the NBA finals but its officials are excited about the homecoming of the Filipino-American coach of the champion Miami Heat team.
"Congratulations to Coach Erik Spoelstra. As I mentioned earlier, we do not take sides but special mention and a very big congratulations to Coach Erik Spoelstra," Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a previous interview.
Miami Heat superstar, LeBron James led his team to a 121-106 rout of the Oklahoma City Thunder to claim the 2012 NBA title last June 22.
Told that Spoelstra said that he would bring home the championship trophy to the Philippines, Valte said that the news would surely excite his Filipino fans. "Oh, that would be good. Coach Spo has many fans here in the Philippines who would like to also convey their congratulations. And I’m sure a lot of fans will be excited," she said.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda who could no longer hide his admiration for Spoelstra said that he will make sure to meet the champion coach if ever he gets to call on President Aquino.
Spoelstra, the first Asian and the first Filipino-American to coach an NBA team was raised in Portland by his mother Elisa Celino of San Pablo, Laguna and Jon Spoelstra, a Dutch-Irish-American who worked as an executive for various NBA teams.
For the past three years, Spoelstra has returned to the Philippines during the off-season to preach to the Filipino youth the gospel of a healthy and active lifestyle by being an ambassador of NBA Fit, the professional basketball league’s global health and wellness program.
By JC BELLO RUIZ