Spurs have Pinoy connection in shooting coach
MANILA, Philippines – Unknown to many Filipino NBA fans, the Philippines also has a direct connection with the San Antonio Spurs.
If the Miami Heat has Filipino-American coach Erik Spoelstra, the Spurs have shooting coach Arthur “Chip” Engelland, who was once part of the San Miguel Beer team (Northern Cement Consolidated) that won the William Jones Cup in 1985.
Engelland played alongside other Filipino basketball legends like Allan Caidic, Samboy Lim and Hector Calma as they defeated Team USA in overtime, 108-100, at the Jones Cup finals.
The 6-foot-4 Engelland was one of the three reinforcements brought in by legendary PBA coach Ron Jacobs -- the other two were Jeff Moore and Dennis Still -- to add ceiling to the team’s lineup in 1983.
He was nicknamed “The Machine Gun” because of his shooting prowess. During San Miguel’s 1985 Jones Cup conquest, Engelland scored 43 points, while his protégé’ Caidic had 21.
Engelland also played for San Miguel in the PBA before serving as a shooting mentor of Caidic, Naning Valenciano and Pido Jarencio.
He later moved back to the US, playing for the Topeka Sizzlers (Continental Basketball Association) and the Calgary 88's (World Basketball League).
After retiring, he became an assistant coach for the Detroit Pistons, Denver Nuggets and then eventually the San Antonio Spurs.
In a 2007 interview with the Philippine Star columnist Joaquin Henson, Engelland described how he missed the Philippines.
“I’m craving for Philippine mangoes,” Engelland said at the time. “I miss Pagsanjan Falls, Baguio and the beaches. I still have some Philippine pesos and I’ll never give up the San Miguel uniform I wore when we beat the US for the Jones Cup championship in 1985.”
In the NBA, he was credited for improving the shooting efficiencies of Grant Hill, Tony Parker, Steve Kerr, Larry Hughes, Shane Battier, Chamique Holdsclaw and Kawhi Leonard.
“I’m like a lifeguard,” Engelland said in the interview. “I look at how I can improve a player’s shooting. If a player hits all his threes in a game then none in the next, I address the problem of consistency. If a player is a good three-point shooter but has difficulty scoring off the dribble, I work with him to fix the problem. I look at little things that could improve free throw shooting.”
He also marveled about the Filipinos’ passion for basketball and said he gets mails from Filipino fans once in a while.
The last time he visited the Philippines was in 2007 when he conducted clinics for San Miguel.
“Filipino fans are the best in the world because they know the game, they follow the league religiously and they’re very loyal to their favorite players and teams,” said Engelland.