FAST-RISING San Antonio star Kawhi Leonard credits former Philippine national player Arthur 'Chip' Engelland for his newfound confidence built through hours of work with the Spurs’ shooting coach.
Leonard is in town along with several NBA stars for a much-awaited benefit games against Gilas Pilipinas on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum dubbed the 'Last Home Stand.'
The NBA Finals MVP said he's one of the long line of players who has benefited from Engelland's teachings, among them Tony Parker, Steve Kerr, Grant Hill, Shane Battier, and Richard Jefferson.
“He (Engelland) is our shooting coach so he’s just taught shooting techniques, that’s about it,” the 6-foot-7 Leonard told sports scribes during the official press launch at the NBA Cafe in SM Aura, Taguig City.
The 23-year-old Leonard said Engelland also talked fondly about his stint with the NCC-backed national squad, which he helped win the 1985 William Jones Cup title against the US team.
“He (Engelland) just shared that (national team) experience with me, like how many points he scored and how is the relationship and the culture of the fans here,” said Leonard, the 15th overall pick of the Indiana Pacers in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Engelland actually served as one of the Philippine team’s three naturalized players during the mid-1980s. Nicknamed “Machine Gun”, the former Duke standout was noted for his shooting prowess.
Meantime, Leonard is coming off his best career performance as one of San Antonio’s newest exciting players after averaging 14.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.7 steals in the 2014 NBA playoffs.