By CHRISTIAN JACINTO and J0NAS TERRADO
The 6-foot-10 Bonner, who is in Manila for the three-day NBA Cares program, said the window is far from closing on the Spurs as their consistency coupled with their commitment to excellence are aspects that always make them a title contender.
“Every year, people would always say that we’re too old but we always proved them wrong,“ Bonner told a handful of scribes after an activity with kids at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Led by Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio came close to winning its fifth NBA crown when it lost to the Lebron James-led Heat in seven games.
“We don’t listen to what a lot of people are saying, and as far as with people saying that we’re too old, I don’t think so,“ he added. “Look at Tim Duncan and his game, he relies on fundamentals, high IQ and skills and those things don’t mesh with age and as long as we’re healthy, we always have a good chance to be back in the finals.“
Much like every other NBA superstar that comes to the Philippines, Bonner is amazed with how passionate the Filipinos are when it comes to basketball.
“The Philippines’ love for basketball is awesome and to finally experience it in person is amazing,“ Bonner said during the first day of his visit last Friday at the Ronac Art Center in San Juan.
“Believe it or not, I’ve heard about it and how much this country loves the sport and loves the NBA. To be here and see the people wearing NBA gear, and just to see how it’s a part of your culture is awesome.“
Bonner even said that he’s going to be part of the millions of Filipinos in supporting Gilas Pilipinas in the upcoming FIBA World Cup in Spain next year.
“It’s great for the Philippines to qualify for the World Cup. I know it’s gonna create a lot of excitement in our sport. I’m gonna be cheering for you guys too.“
Bonner is one of the rare NBA centers who can hit the outside shot. Over the course of his 10-year career that began in 2004 with Toronto, the 33-year old has hit 41% from the rainbow country, a skill which can be attributed to him idolizing Larry Bird as a youngster.
“I grew up watching Larry Bird when I was growing up in New Hamsphere which is north of Boston and he’s a 6-foot-8 or 6-foot-9 guy who can shoot and has a tremendous work ethic,“ he said. “I always want to work hard like Larry Bird and I want to shoot three-pointers like Larry Bird and I have to work hard evey game with my shooting and my stroke and I once I got into the NBA, (former NBA players) Donyell Marshall and Robert Horry helped me find my niche within the team.“