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Spoelstra featured in UNICEF typhoon relief ad

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MIAMI (AP) - Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, a Filipino-American, released a public service announcement with UNICEF on Wednesday asking people to help with typhoon relief efforts in the Philippines.

Spoelstra's mother is from the Philippines, and the Heat coach has visited her homeland several times in recent years. The country's eastern portion was devastated last Friday when Typhoon Haiyan struck, killing thousands, displacing hundreds of thousands and leaving enormous numbers of Filipinos homeless, hungry and thirsty.

"Devastation caused by the recent typhoon in the Philippines has been catastrophic and millions of children have been impacted," Spoelstra said in the PSA, which was taped as he stood on the court where the Heat play home games.

The NBA, the NBA Players Association and the Heat are among the groups who have already announced donations to relief efforts. The Heat combined with Carnival Corporation to pledge at least $1 million to the effort; the team is owned by Micky Arison, who also chairs Carnival's board.

In addition, the Heat held a moment of silence for those lost and affected by the storm before their game Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Spoelstra's success as coach of the Heat has been huge news in the Philippines. Reporters from that country have traveled to cover the last three NBA Finals largely because of Spoelstra's involvement, and when he returned to the Philippines as part of a sports envoy tour arranged by the NBA and the U.S. State Department in 2009 _ his first trip there in 35 years _ massive crowds awaited him at every stop.

Other than fans from the U.S. and China, the NBA has said that Filipinos are most active on the league's Facebook and Twitter accounts.

"The NBA Family is teaming up with UNICEF to bring life-saving clean water, food, medicine and shelter that are urgently needed," Spoelstra said in the PSA. "Join our team."

He ends the spot by saying "Thank you" and "Maraming salamat po" _ the Filipino phrase for "Thank you very much."

___

Online:

Spoelstra PSA: http://uncf.us/1aF3byx

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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