Coach Spo gets extra-warm reception in San Pablo homecoming

Marching band. Rock star screams. Flashing cameras. And a welcoming throng of students, teachers and countrymen.

This is what greeted Coach Erik Celino Spoelstra as he stepped out of his van into the open quadrangle of the San Pablo Colleges in San Pablo, Laguna Province on August 12. It was his first visit ever to his mother, Elisa Celino’s hometown. And the whole town, it seems, turned out en masse to catch a glimpse of their famous local son, even if Coach Spo had been born and grew up in the States.

Spoelstra conducted a Gatorade basketball clinic among grade school children of San Pablo Colleges together with Miami Heat Assistant Coach Dave Fizdale where they taught the kids about “The Triple Threat”, a basic basketball stance that he described as “the mother of all basketball moves”. “From this stance you can dribble, pass or shoot,” he told the kids, who filled up the school gym to the rafters.

To show their appreciation for their favourite son, the City Council and San Pablo Colleges awarded Coach Spo plaques of recognition and appreciation, respectively. “You have been a source of pride and inspiration to our City; today is a very significant event for San Pablo,” a city official said.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Executive Director Noli Eala, whose family owns the school, said what happened in San Pablo is “indescribable”. “It is a big thing for us to have an NBA coach who comes from the Philippines, and one from our city at that.”

Coach Spo, visibly overwhelmed, thanked the San Pableños for their hospitality and the “unbelievable” welcome. “I was not expecting this. We had planned this trip for a long time and now it’s here. It’s unfortunate that my Mom couldn’t join me, but I take great pleasure in seeing all the sights and places where she grew up in,” he said.

Spoelstra said he is happy to be in San Pablo to promote NBA FIT. “I am an advocate of proper conditioning, exercise, eating right and healthy choices, and I am passionate about sharing it with everyone here. I am also passionate about learning more about my heritage, and giving back to the community. I have always been proud of my heritage and I’m proud of being Filipino.”

Coach Spo also paid a visit to the San Pablo Colleges Hospital, then visited relatives and planted trees in a special site.

After Coach Spo’s Gatorade basketball clinics, NBA FIT Week continues with the NBA FIT Fun Run on Aug. 14 at SM Mall of Asia starting at 5 a.m. with 3K, 5K and 10K distances open to participants of all ages. A total of 2,000 spots are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Each participant will get a special NBA Fun Run Running Singlet and the top finishers will win special prizes including NBA basketballs autographed by Coach Spoelstra, one-month membership provided by Fitness First, and other premiums sponsored by the NBA FIT Week event partners.

Official partners of the NBA FIT Week are Gatorade, Head & Shoulders, and Summit Drinking Water. Media partners are Basketball TV, Men’s Health Magazine, Yahoo! Philippines and Wave 89.1. Partners in sport include Fitness First, Run Rio and University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP). Venue partners are SM Malls, Marriott Manila and Araneta Coliseum (for NBA FIT Development Camp presented by Gatorade). Community partners such as the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) under the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Health and UNICEF are also endorsing the program.(pr)

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