Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and Filipino boxing sensation Manny Pacquiao are taking a break from their tight schedules this summer to promote sports and healthy lifestyles for the youth of the Philippines.
Spoelstra, whose mother is from San Pablo, Philippines, has traveled to the island nation during the past two NBA offseasons to conduct basketball clinics.
This summer, Spoelstra wants to partner with Philippine boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao to promote basketball as well as boxing among the Filipino youth.
The very popular Miami Heat head coach, who is an avid fan of Pacquiao, brought along his coaching staff during his past visit to his mother's home country.
Spoelstra actually met Pacquiao in one of his visits to the country.
"I’m a big fan of Manny Pacquiao. It’s a dream to meet him. Somehow, our schedules were coordinated. We were able to say hello to each other and exchange pictures that we can have for a long time," Spoelstra said.
Details of the planned summer trip are still being finalized, but one of the clinic's venues would likely be Kibabwe in Bukidnon, where Manny Pacquiao was born.
Meanwhile, Spoelstra is happy with the season performance of his team. The Miami Heat's 21-game winning streak has been largely fueled by the team's "three kings" of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.
“It was terrific for them to join our team and help us grow. They are incredible talents," Spoelstra said, pointing out that Bosh is an Olympian and an all-star player while James was last year’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).
“There is a lot more to do. Our team still has its struggles as LeBron and Chris are trying to fit into our system," Spoelstra said. “Hopefully, they will be able to take us to our dream of having back the 2006 championship."
On the boxing front pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao, who is set to start training for his fight with Shane Mosley on May 7, will leave for the US shortly to promote the fight in a press tour, which will kick off at the Beverly Hills hotel in Los Angeles, California on February 9.
Bob Arum has reportedly made arrangements for Manny Pacquiao to be presented in the U.S. Senate during the Washington leg of the promotional tour.
Pacquiao will probably have an audience with U.S. president Barack Obama during the Washington segment of the press tour.
“It would all depend on the availability of the President,” Arum said.
Pacquiao is set to start training soon after he returns to the Philippines from the scheduled U.S. trip. The first phase of his training, which is expected to last for four weeks, will be held in Baguio City in Northern Philippines, while the second phase will take place at the Wild Card Gym in California.