MANILA, Philippines – NBA champion Jason Williams recalled with fondness his time with current Miami Heat head coach, Filipino-American Erik Spoelstra, even wishing he could have spent more years with him.
“Erik Spoelstra is one of the greatest people in the world, and I’m not just saying that because I’m in the Philippines, but he really is a good guy,” said Williams, who recently visited the country for the NBA 3X Philippines event.
“I wish I got the chance to play for him when he was the head coach, but definitely enjoyed my time with him when I was in Miami for sure,” he added.
Williams, who served as point guard during his stay with the team from 2005-2008, was coached by the legendary Pat Riley.
Spoelstra was then part of the team staff, starting out as the Heat’s video coordinator in 1995.
After Riley took over the team midway through the 2005-2006 season, the Heat clawed their way to the NBA Finals, where they downed the Dallas Mavericks in six games to win the franchise’s first title.
Williams left the Heat after a disappointing 15-67 record in their 2007-2008 campaign and temporarily retired in the offseason, but the veteran point guard returned to play for Orlando and Memphis for three more seasons before calling it quits in 2011.
Spoelstra, on the other hand, steered Miami to five NBA Finals appearances, winning two Larry O’Brien trophies behind LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.
Williams relished his second visit to the Philippines as he also graced the final day of the NBA 3X event, calling the Philippine brand of basketball as “competitive, very physical, and unselfish.”
Williams, nicknamed “White Chocolate” during his 12-year NBA career, said Filipino players can definitely succeed at the highest level.
“I want to tell them that anybody talking about that – [Filipinos being] too small, all that bullcrap, you know what I mean, just go out and play hard and do what you could do,” said Williams.
Promising ballers showcased their wares in front of Williams in the recent NBA 3X at the Mall of Asia Music Hall, where Adamson and UST team A were crowned as the men’s and women’s open division champions, respectively.
The Falcons were represented by Jhon Arthur Calisay, Aaron Flowers, Ivan Jay Maata, and Wilfrey Magbuhos Jr., defeating 5J Elite, 22-10, with Flowers being awarded the MVP.
On the distaff side, Tigresses Catherine Dionisio, Reynalyn Ferrer, Kent Pastrana, and MVP Ana Mae Tacatac outlasted Uratex Dream, 21-16.
UST Basketball Girls, comprised of Kyla Laylo, Gin Kayla Relliquette, Karylle Sierba, and Clarisse Visto ruled the U-19 division, while KMS Vikings Team 1 of John Denver Baluyot, Yeshua Espiritu, John Axel Mendoza, and Gabriel Nepacena won in the boys’ U-19 category. – Rappler.com
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