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

CHICAGO – Filipino-American Erik Spoelstra, the most eligible bachelor and winningest coach in the current NBA season, has confirmed reports that 24-year-old Nikki Sapp, a Miami native and a former Heat dancer, has been a constant companion but he would not confirm if she is her girlfriend.

The 42-year-old coach of the defending champion Miami Heat, which has a 23-game wining streak since Feb. 1, said Ms. Sapp may have accompanied him “to our charity fundraiser, but other than that he is not commenting.”

According to the Miami Herald, “the famously private coach recently stepped out with his girlfriend for the first time.[box type=”default” size=”large”] Other than that he is not commenting, spokesman says [/box]“Apparently, Spoelstra has been dating Sapp for nearly two years, but the couple only recently made their relationship public. Sapp is now a director at the Guy Hepner art gallery in West Hollywood, California and so she splits her time between Miami and Los Angeles.”

In an email to this reporter, Spoelstra’s spokesman, Tim Donovan, who is also vice president for sports media of Miami Heat, said, “It is true that she (Sapp) accompanied Spo to our charity fundraiser, but other than that he is not commenting. He wants to keep his private life private. I hope you can understand.”

LeBron James and Spoelstra’s Miami Heat escaped Boston Celtics with their 23rdwin in a row Monday (March 18) night, becoming the longest in franchise history and in the league this season. Only the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, which won 33 in a row, are in front of them.

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Spoelstra, whose mother hails from San Pablo City, Philippines, recently received a 2012 Presidential Award for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas from President Noynoy Aquino, who, like, Spoelstra, is also a bachelor.

His co-awardees were Filipino American hip hop icon Allan Pineda or apl.de.ap, and Almira Astudillo Gilles, an award-winning writer of children’s books in Chicago.

Last June 28, Spoelstra was honored by the Philippine House of Representatives for his being the first Asian American coach to win the NBA championship.

A fan of Congressman and world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao, Spoelstra was broken-hearted when he learned that Pacquiao was rooting for Boston Celtics, not his Miami Heat, when they won his first NBA championship as a coach.

But despite Pacquiao’s avowed loyalty to the Celtics, Spoelstra assured this reporter that he remains a Pacquiao fan.