Guiao, Cone, five others want ‘Spo’, Heat to win
As the 12 teams start to go inside the “bubble” for the Philippine Cup restart in Clark, Pampanga on Oct. 9, PBA coaches – like most basketball observers in the country – have their own take in the NBA Finals this week.
It’s going to be the Los Angeles Lakers against the Miami Heat.
Game 1 of the best-of-seven series starts Thursday at The Arena inside the NBA ‘bubble’ in Lake Bay, Florida.
The match-up has plenty of storylines, like the return of the Lakers in the championship stage for the first time in 10 years, while the Heat are back after losing in 2014.
LeBron James of L.A. is playing in his ninth Finals in a span of 10 years – his first after missing the playoffs last season. Of course, he is back with versatile big man Anthony Davis as his partner.
The Lakers eliminated the Denver Nuggets, 4-1, in the Western Conference Finals, while the Heat denied the Boston Celtics a chance for a “dream” final against their old rival LA with a 4-2 beating in their own series.
Miami, of course, own three NBA titles – the last two were led by James, who, following that 2014 defeat to the San Antonio Spurs, opted to leave the South Beach and return to his “home” team Cleveland Cavaliers.
While James and the Lakers appear to be more popular among Filipinos, the Heat have their own pull, primarily because of Miami’s Fil-Am mentor Erik Spoelstra – a two-time champion coach.
“Heat in 7… Pinoy for Spo,” said NLEX coach Yeng Guiao.
Aside from the Filipino connection with Spoelstra, Guiao also likes the “underdog” Heat, with whom he finds semblance to his former teams Red Bull and Rain or Shine – two teams he led to championships with no superstar players.
“Yes they’re the underdogs, they play more of a team. LA, on the other hand, is LeBron-AD,” he said.
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel coach Tim Cone – a huge supporter of Spoelstra – considers L.A. as the heavy favorites, but he likes Miami’s chances considering the way it has been playing in the playoffs.
After beating the Celtics, the Heat improved to 12-3 in the playoffs – the same record of the Lakers going to the Finals.
“I don’t have a very good crystal ball, but I’m very happy the Heat are back in the Finals,” said Cone. “LeBron and AD will be a load for the Heat and I think the Lakers will be heavily favored.”
“But you can’t underestimate the Heat, they found ways to win. My heart says Miami in 7.”
Meralco’s Norman Black feels the same thing, as he favors the veteran-loaded Lakers, but his heart, too, is for Spoelstra as he wants to see the mentor win another NBA championship.
“With the Heat entering the Finals, I’m hoping Miami will spring an upset because I want to see coach Spoelstra win,” he said.
TNT coach Bong Ravena, Alaska’s Jeff Cariaso, Rain or Shine’s Caloy Garcia, and Phoenix Fuel’s Topex Robinson also root for the Heat, not only because of Spoelstra but also due to the quality of play Miami shows.
“Heat in six. Underdog and no superstar,” said Ravena.
“Love the chemistry and teamwork Miami is showing,” said Cariaso.
“Heat in six. I just feel that they play consistently on both ends of the floor,” said Garcia.
“Heat in seven. I’m a big fan of Miami’s concept of team play,” said Robinson.
As for the Lakers, coaches Chito Victolero of Magnolia, Nash Racela of Blackwater and Terra Firma DYIP’s Johnedel Cardel all see the combination of James and Davis dominating the Heat.
“Lakers in six. Sa match up medyo mahihirapan and Heat kasi ang ganda ng combination ng Lakers, they can go big and they can go small. May mga seasoned players yung Lakers,” said Victolero.
Racela shares the same view, saying: “They can either go small to match up or big to force the mismatches against Miami.”
“Lakers in six because of LeBron and AD, they also have good role players,” said Cardel.