Photo by Erik Spoelstra
Erik Spoelstra – Source: J. Meric/Getty Images North America

CHICAGO – Filipino-American NBA (National Basketball Association) Head Coach Erik Spoelstra said, “It’s an honor for me to be recognized by the House of Representatives in the Philippines.”

The honor was bestowed on Spoelstra after he became the first NBA coach with Asian lineage to win the NBA championship.

In an email to this reporter, Tim Donovan, vice president for sports media of Miami Heat, quoted Spoelstra as saying, “I’ve truly had fulfilling trips the last three years working with Filipino families and youth during my off-season visits to the Philippines. It is so rewarding to be able to give back through the game of basketball that has given so much to me.”[box type=”default” size=”large”] He has the distinction as only NBA head coach with Asian blood [/box]Three days after the Miami Heat beat Oklahoma Thunder, the Philippine House of Representatives cited  Spoelstra, whose mother is a Filipina, as the “first coach with a Filipino lineage to win an NBA championship.”

Bacolod Rep. Anthony Golez Jr. filed House Resolution 2515  recognizing Spoelstra and tracing his roots to the Philippines. Spoelstra’s mother, Elisa Celino, hails from San Pablo City, Philippines.

Golez said, “The House of Representatives has traditionally paid tribute to outstanding Filipino achievers who have showcased their knowledge and talent in the international stage. Coach Erik Spoelstra’s pride of  his Filipino heritage is evident by his visits to the Philippines and his statements in the public.

“Spoelstra is one proud Filipino; you can see this with his actions and statements. He has visited the Philippines several times and proudly proclaims his admiration of fellow Filipino achiever, Rep. Manny Pacquiao. The entire country should be thankful and honored by his achievements.”

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Spoelstra, in answer to a question by an ESPN announcer, said he was drawing “lots of analogies” from boxing and that “everybody knows I am a big Manny Pacquiao fan.”

Spoelstra has always counted Filipinos as among the legions of his fans.

There were reports that if Spoelstra will visit again the Philippines during the off-season this year,

Spoelstra is the first Filipino-American head coach in the NBA, as well as the first Filipino-American head coach of any North American professional sports team. (Joseph G. Lariosa)