NBA officials say that Southeast Asia is the fastest growing market for the NBA, with a fan base growing with every season. In the Philippines, for example, the NBA has a social media following – ‘likes’ and mentions on Facebook and Twitter – that is second only to the US.
Southeast Asia’s basketball talent received affirmation and advice from one of the NBA’s most celebrated coaches – Erik Spoelstra, coach of the Miami Heat – this week as he toured the region, training young hopefuls and giving talks to fellow coaches.
Mr. Spoelstra – part Filipino, and the first Asian-American coach to win an NBA championship – said he was encouraged by the region’s talent and believes that traditional perceptions of what it takes to be an NBA player are changing, allowing for more talent from Asia.
“The game of basketball and the NBA is changing in terms of perceptions, the world is changing,” said Mr. Spoelstra in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, adding that players like Jeremy Lin and others, some coming from outside the U.S., have changed “perceptions of what an NBA player should look like.”
The coach, also one of the youngest in the league, has traveled to the Philippines several times under the NBA FIT program, which aims to educate people on nutrition and fitness. He made his first visit to Singapore, as part of his Asian tour, and is now in the Philippines as part of the same tour.
“All of athletics has a great future [in Singapore],” he added in comments to the media. “I don’t see why there won’t continue to be players from Asia, from Europe, from South America, one of these days hopefully from the Philippines.”