Two years after his final PBA game, Willie Miller's life still revolves around basketball
Willie Miller says his passion for basketball does not not waver, especially seeing son Dre (hiding behind the former PBA MVP) take interest in the sport. Rhoel Fernandez

TWO years removed from his PBA career, Willie Miller’s life still revolves around basketball. 

SPIN.ph caught up with the two-time PBA MVP during the tip-off ceremony of the Jr. NBA Philippines 2017 at Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati on Saturday.

The affable Olongapo City native is one of the coaches handling the hundreds of aspiring ballers in the program as it travels to 40 cities around the country in the next five months.

The 14-year pro joined the Jr. NBA coaching staff last year with the encouragement of former Alaska Aces coach Jeffrey Cariaso.

“He told me na every time na free ako na pumunta ako. I support. I coach. Masaya kasi kapag nakakakita ka ng mga bata,” said Miller who also forms part of Cariaso's Titan Basketball Academy. 

“Mga laro-laro pa rin. Ang sabi nga, ‘ball is life.’ Hindi titigil ‘di ba?” Miller said.

The 39-year old swingman says his passion for basketball does not not waver, especially seeing his son Dre take interest in the sport.

“Mahilig ako magturo ng mga bata. May anak akong naglalaro ng basketball so tinuturuan ko siya. At the same time yung ibang mga kids nagpapaturo sa akin.”

“Pagdating naman sa gabi may nag-iinvite sa akin mag-basketball. Mga ligang labas, mga invitationals, mga openings. Mostly basketball pa din talaga.”

Having no contract with any club also has some advantages for Miller.

“Yun yung transition from being a player to giving back to others naman. I’m still playing basketball siyempre pero hindi na yung katulad sa PBA dati.”

“Yung mga hindi ko napupuntahan dati yun yung mga napupuntahan ko ngayon. Yung mga dating nag-iinvite sa akin na hindi ko ma-oohan, yung mga kaibigan ko na alam mo pag pumunta ka sa kanila na makakapagpasaya ka ng tao yun yung ginagawa ko ngayon. Yun yung masaya sa buhay ko ngayon.”

At the age of 39 and with his recent foray in training kids, Miller is also thinking of going into coaching.

“Gusto kong mag-coach. Gusto ko kasing magturo sa mga bata e,” he said excitedly. “Sayang naman yung mga natutunan ko, yung mga experience na maaayos, yung mga experience ko na bad which I don’t want to teach (but) nandito ako para sabihin sa kanila ganito yung naging experience ko. Ikaw ang may experience, sabihin mo sa kanila para hindi na sila umabot sa ganoong experience.”

Miller admitted that at this stage as a budding coach, he has learned a lot about dealing with young players, and he is eager to improve.

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“Being disciplined and then siyempre yung patience. Pagdating sa bata yung patience ko medyo mahaba dahil gusto sa mga bata medyo yung masayahin kasi. And you know when they’re enjoying ako yung magre-reach out. Natututunan ko din yung different styles ng pag-coach. Yung sinasabi nila iba-iba din yung style.”

“Kailangan naka-smile lang, bawal yung naka-simangot! Kasi mas masaya ang basketball sa akin, once you’re having fun you’re going to enjoy basketball. But of course you have to put in the hard work. That’s what’s important.”          

Follow the writer on Twitter: @rhoelfernandez