Stephen Curry: Show some heart | Inquirer Sports

Stephen Curry: Show some heart

By: - Reporter / @jwpayoINQ
/ 01:53 AM September 06, 2015

Basketball superstar Stephen Curry playfully shadowboxed when talk turned to Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao.

Curry, the reigning National Basketball Association (NBA) Most Valuable Player (MVP), got all pumped up right before meeting a fellow sports celebrity on Saturday on his first visit to the Philippines.

Wearing a white “Thrilla in Manila” T-shirt and gray sweats with a “Muhammad Ali” print, Curry arrived for the one-day Manila tour, dubbed as “The UA Roadshow featuring Stephen Curry.”

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The NBA star came on board a private jet with Kevin Plank, the founder and chief executive officer of the American sports brand that brought the sweet-shooting guard on a five-city, five-day Asian tour.

“I’ll teach (Pacquiao) a little bit of the jump shot and he’ll teach me a little bit of how to make my hands faster with gloves,” Curry said during a one-on-one interview with the Inquirer.

The two sports greats had professed to be each other’s fan, with Curry sending Pacquiao an autographed jersey and taking time for photos with the boxer’s kids in a postgame meetup a few months ago.

Heart of a champion

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“I like boxing, so he’s a guy I always love to watch. He’s also a Warriors fan, so that’s big,” said Curry, who led the Golden State Warriors this season to their first NBA championship in 40 years.

“His faith is huge. Just the way he inspires so many people not only in the (San Francisco) Bay area in the States, but obviously here,” Curry said of Pacquiao. “He has a true heart of a champion really. He works hard. He’s a family man,” the basketball star added.

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Curry was scheduled to meet Pacquiao in a private dinner, right after a basketball showcase where he thrilled fans and conducted drills and shoot-outs with selected high-school players at the packed SM Mall of Asia Arena.

“My social media (account) has been on fire with fans from the Philippines—anticipating this trip and letting me know how much they watch the NBA all season long,” said Curry. “I appreciate that support and love. Glad to be here and hopefully inspire the game of basketball in this country even more.”

Just hours after he landed, Curry had already promised a return trip to this basketball-crazy nation.

Daughter Riley

“I definitely plan on coming back,” said Curry. “I would need some recommendations [on where to go]. I would just like to drive off somewhere in the middle of the city. I don’t have time for this trip, but this won’t be my only time in Manila.”

READ: Stephen Curry says he’s coming back to Manila for sure

Curry added that next time, he might bring along his daughter Riley, the 3-year-old charmer who has turned into a celebrity in her own right.

“I think you won’t allow me to come back without her,” the basketball star said jokingly.

Teen heartthrob Daniel Padilla, a big Curry fan, also came to meet the 6-foot-3 star in a VIP meet-and-greet event at Raffles Makati.

“That might have been the first time, I’m guessing, he was speechless. I was really proud of that moment,” Curry said in jest later during a press conference when asked how his meetup with the wildly popular young star had turned out.

Curry surprisingly followed Padilla on Twitter in July, probably because he had posted his collection of the champion player’s signature shoes and merchandise, the actor said.

Confirmed Curry: “I saw a picture that he posted, with all his Under Armour gear, all the signature shoes. He probably had more shoes than me at that time.”

Twitter following

Padilla has a whopping 4.1 million followers on Twitter, more than Curry’s 2.8 million followers.

“I appreciate his support,” said Curry of Padilla. “And to be one of his four and a half million followers, I’m proud of that.”

Padilla later thanked the NBA star on his social media account before showing up again at courtside and wearing a Warriors jersey during Curry’s fan event

“I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS.. @StephenCurry30 Thank you.. #GodisGood,” Padilla (@imdanielpadilla) wrote as caption to a photo that the Inquirer had taken of the actor, who was all smiles with his on-court idol.

READ: Daniel Padilla meets NBA star Stephen Curry

At the fan event, Curry showed off his championship trophy as fans cheered him with chants of “MVP.”

“We just want to do it again. It’s such a great feeling the first time [to win the championship],” Curry told the Inquirer. “We want to work as hard as we did to accomplish our goals again. Every time I see a championship hat or when I see the trophy, that inspires me to get back to the gym and keep working.”

Just two weeks ago, Curry’s NBA Finals opponent LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers also dropped by Manila for his second trip in two years.

“Each stop is really going to be different—different country, different culture,” said Curry. “But basketball is one language basically. Everybody plays the same game.”

On top of his MVP and title romp, Curry also set records this season for the most three-pointers made at 273 and the most three-pointers made in the postseason with 98.

“I can always get better. I don’t think I’ve reached my full potential yet,” said Curry. “What that means specifically, I don’t really know. But it can be to be even more creative on the floor, even more determined to impact the game.”

The Golden State Warriors star vowed to win a second straight NBA title during his visit on Saturday.

“We feel like we’re still the team to beat,” Curry said when asked about his team’s odds of defending their title during the 2015-2016 season that starts on Oct. 27.

Curry led the Warriors to the NBA title over the Cleveland Cavaliers in June, setting a record for three-pointers made in a single play-off run.

“It’s going to be a different challenge for us. We’ve never defended an NBA championship before so it will be a new experience for us,” the 27-year-old added.

“All eyes are on our team and every other team is trying to knock us off our throne, so we have to be even better than we were last year to get back to the top.”

Curry won the Most Valuable Player award in May after he helped his team win a franchise-record 67 regular season wins, averaging 23.8 points, 7.7 assists, 2.04 steals and 4.3 rebounds.

In 2010 and 2014, Curry also saw action for the US men’s basketball team that captured the gold medal in the International Basketball Federation (Fiba) World Championships.

“It’s crazy when you go overseas and suit up for your country’s colors,” he said. “It’s something bigger than you.”

During the press conference in Manila, Curry revealed that he maintains a long-running, high-stakes bet with his mother, Sonya Curry, who fines him whenever he turns over the ball three or more times during a game.

He needs to maintain better ball control after losing possession 249 times over 80 regular-season games last season, the basketball star said.

“I averaged probably 3.1 turnovers last year so you can do the math on who won that agreement,” he said, without revealing how much money he had to cough up.

“I have to be a better player going into the next season,” Curry vowed.

Advice to Gilas Pilipinas

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The NBA star’s trip to the Philippines comes less than a month after the country lost out to regional rival China in an intense fight for the right to host the 2019 Fiba Basketball World Cup.

So, what advice could he give the Gilas Pilipinas men’s basketball team? Curry was asked.

“Don’t hold anything back,” he replied. “Show some heart. Play with confidence. Whatever your style is—whether you’re playing small ball or shooting a lot of threes, embrace it. Play to the best of your ability.”

Curry is set to leave for China this morning for the last stretch of his trip to Beijing (Sept. 6), Chongqing (Sept. 7) and Shanghai (Sept. 8). With reports from Kristine Felisse Mangunay and AFP

TAGS: Basketball, Daniel Padilla, Golden State Warriors, Manny Pacquiao, National Basketball association, NBA Finals, Pacquiao, Stephen Curry

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