THE last three coaches to lift a championship in the Philippine Basketball Association are all rooting for Erik Spoelstra and his Miami Heat, but they're not discounting a reversal by the San Antonio Spurs.
“I am naturally for the Heat mainly because of coach Erik, I know him personally. So I’d like to see the Heat win. But this is going to be a tough one for them,” said Black, the most successful coach in Philippine basketball today after a fifth title with Ateneo and a Philippine Cup championship with Talk 'N Text.
Yeng Guiao of reigning Governors Cup champion Rain or Shine echoed Black's sentiments, but he warned that the Spurs will have a fighting chance in the NBA Finals that begins on Friday morning (Manila time).
“Syempre meron tayong emotional attachment dahil 'yung coach ng Heat ay Pinoy,” said Guiao. “Lamang ang Miami pero kaya silang disgrasyahin ng Spurs.”
Luigi Trillo of recently crowned Commissioner's Cup titlist Alaska took it a step further, predicting a Spurs victory.
“I’m rooting for Erik Spoelstra because he is a Pinoy. I’m rooting for Miami because of Spoelstra but my honest opinion … the Spurs will win it,” said the youthful Alaska coach.
Trillo believes that Miami has the edge in terms of youthfulness, but this he said was dulled by the fact that the Spurs are coming in fresh after a sweep of the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference finals while the Heat were taken to the limit by the Indiana Pacers.
“The Spurs are very fresh. They had a good rest, unlike Miami which is coming off a long Eastern Conference finals,” Trillo said.
Guiao, however, feels the Spurs will be at a big disadvantage the deeper the series goes.
“Short distance, pwedeng maka-disgrasya ang Spurs pero habang humahaba ang series magiging factor dyan ang age. May mga edad na ang core ng San Antonio,” Guiao said.
“Pagdating sa experience at sa diskrate pati deliberate game, palagay ko lamang ang Spurs. Pero athleticism, talent, youth factor at open court, Miami yan,” added the Congressman-elect of Pampanga's first district.
Black said the fact that both the Heat and Spurs have rich championship experience makes the best-of-seven series interesting to watch.
"(The Heat) have already proven they can win a championship, Black said. “So San Antonio is a good match-up for them.”
Black however doesn’t see the Heat encountering the same problem they had against the tall lineup of the Pacers when they take on the relatively shorter Spurs.
Because of that, he likes Miami's chances.
“The problem the Heat had against Indiana was the size factor. In almost every position they were at the disadvantage (match-up-wise), but I don’t think the Spurs have the size to do that,” he said.
“So San Antonio will have to play Miami in a finesse game, just like the Heat plays. And if you match them up in a finesse game, I think Miami has the advantage,” Black added.