Saturday, March 28, 2015

Filipino-Americans (Fil-Ams) in the NBA

The advent of the cable TV has enabled people in every corner of the world to watch their favorite sporting events such as the NBA. Basketball is a game that is viewed and followed by millions of people. And Filipinos are people who love basketball, and watching NBA games is a favorite pastime of many of them. But no blue blooded Filipino has ever made it to the NBA as a player. However, there are few Filipino-Americans who made it to the league as players or coaches. Below are the few who have made headway to the league.

 Raymond Townsend was born in San Jose, California on December 20, 1955, to the couple Ray Sr. and Virginia Marella from Balayan, Batangas, Philippines. The 6’3”, 175 lb Raymond Jr. played college basketball at UCLA. He was a member of the 1975 UCLA National Basketball Team. Raymond was selected with the last pick in the first round (22 overall) of the 1978 NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors. He concluded his career in the NBA in 1982 as a member of the Indiana Pacers. Raymond Townsend is the first Fil-Am to play in the NBA.

 Ricardo Brown was born to an American father and a Filipina named Connie Vidal of Santa Cruz, Manila. Ricardo was a third round, 59th overall pick by the Houston Rockets in 1979. In 1983 the 6’1” point guard went to the Philippines to play for the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA). He suited up for Great Taste from 1983 to 1987 and for San Miguel from 1988 to 1990.He was a member of the 1980 Philippine national team Northern Cement that was coached by Ron Jacobs which competed for the Jones Cup in Taiwan.  The Philippines defeated Taiwan, Sweden, Italy and the United States to win the championship. Brown is now the principal of Ross Middle School in Artesia, California.

Andray Blatche no. 11 (credit: Leo Hidalgo from Wikimedia)
Andray Blatche was born on August 22, 1986 in Syracuse, New York. He was drafted in the NBA in 2005 as a second round, 49 overall pick by the Washington Wizard. The 6’11”, 260 lbs power forward/center played for the wizards from 2005 to 2012. From 2005 to 2006 he was with the Roanoke Dazzle (D) league. In 2012-14 he was with the Brooklyn Nets. In 2014 up to the present he played for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers in China. On May26, 2014, a bill granting Blatche Filipino citizenship was approved by the Philippine senate and signed by Pres. Benigno Aquino II. As a naturalized Filipino, Blatche played for the Gilas Filipinas for the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain. Blatche was also selected to play in the 2014 Asian Games. However, he was disqualified to play due to eligibility issues cited by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).

credit: Mark Schierbecker fro Wikimedia
Jordan Clarkson was born on June 7, 1992, in San Antonio, Texas. He was a 2014 second round, 46 overall draft by the Washington Wizard which then sent him to the LA Lakers. The 6’5”, 186 lbs Filipino-American is a current point/shooting guard of the Los Angeles Lakers. In July 2014, he joined the Lakers for the 2014 summer league, and signed with the team on August 25, 2014. On March 24, 2015, he had a season high best game with 30 points, and 7 assist in a 102-107 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Starting along with Jeremy Lin, the pair became the first Asian-American starting back court in the league’s history.

credit: Zereshk
Arthur “Chip” Engelland was born on May 9, 1961. Although he was not able to make it to the NBA as a player, he however, has found his way in the league as an assistant coach for various teams. A native of LA, he played professional basketball for 9 years. The 6’4”, 175 lbs Engelland became a naturalized Filipino citizen and spent two seasons as a member of Philippine National Basketball team under the sponsorship of Northern Cement Corporation which captured the Jones Cup title in 1985. He was known in the PBA as “the Machine Gun” for his superior shooting skills. In the United States he played for various teams in the CBA from 1986 to 1990. From 1990 to 1991 he played for Calgary 88’s in the World Basketball League.  Chip Engelland was assistant coach of the Detroit Pistons from 1999-2000, Denver Nuggets in 2003-2005 and San Antonio Spurs in 2005 up to the present. As assistant coach he won 2 NBA championships in 2007 and in 2014 for San Antonio Spurs.   

credit: Keith Allison from Wikimedia
Eric Spoelstra was born on November 1, 1970 in Evanston, Illinois. His father, John Spoelstra, is a Dutch-Irish American and former NBA executive of Buffalo Braves, Portland trailblazers, Denver Nuggets and New Jersey Nets. Eric’s mother Elisa is a Native of San Pablo, Laguna, Philippines. Eric is the first Asian-American to ever win an NBA championship as a head coach. From 1997-2008 he was an assistant coach of Miami Heat, and from 2008 up to the present he is elevated to the position as head coach of that team. As assistant coach he helped the Heat win the NBA championship in 2008. And as head coach he won two NBA championships in 2012 and 2013 for his team. He is also a four- time Eastern Conference Champion from 2011 to 2014. Eric Spoelstra was the NBA all star game head coach of 2013.