GOTTA LOVE POP: Pinoy coaches have had a love affair with their American counterparts from the enigmatic Bobby Knight, the stylish Pat Riley to the complex Phil Jackson.
But I have yet to come across a coach who has grown fond of the unconventional style of the irreverent Gregg 'Never Happy' Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs.
Maybe it has something to do with the stigma that the Spurs are a boring lot.
Then again, even in this era of self-gratification, one thing remains the same: Substance Over Style.
Referred to as the "Minute Manager" for his deft management of his ageing core of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker, Popovich is a master when it comes to playing with the minds of his players.
He once defied the NBA and incurred a hefty fine by benching his starters to give them a rest during the regular season. In the blank space filled to explain the players' absence, he candidly wrote, "Old."
In critical Game Three of the Western Conference finals against the Memphis Grizzlies, the two-time NBA Coach of the Year, who mastered in Russian espionage during his stint with the US Air Force, benched his starters who played poorly and got smothered by the Grizzlies early.
As a result the trio of Duncan, Ginobli and Parker played one of the best second halves plus an extra period of their entire careers - a winning move that might as well have clinched a return to the NBA Finals for the Spurs.
Now, who would have the guts to pull such an act in a local league such as the PBA and not worry about rebuke from upper management and his 'superstar' players?