San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Chip Engelland. File Photo.
MANILA, Philippines – San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Chip Engelland, who became a naturalized Filipino in the 1980s, offered some words of advice for Brooklyn Nets big man Andray Blatche, the latest recruit of Gilas Pilipinas.
"I love the players that want to play. He wants to play and represent a country, and that's great," Engelland said of Blatche.
Engelland said the key for Blatche is to get to know the people of the Philippines and their culture, as he will be playing for them in the FIBA World Cup later this year.
"It's difficult to represent anything if you don’t know the people, and that’s what felt at home for me. I understood the Filipino people and felt honored to represent them," he said.
Engelland was part of the Philippine national team that won the 1985 Jones Cup Championship, although he is now more known as the "shot doctor" of the Spurs.
"When I lived there (in the Philippines), I really felt part of the culture," the 53-year-old Engelland said. "For two to three years, we were working towards this chip (the Jones Cup), we were working towards that, so we'd feel part of the country."
Although it's been years since he wore a Philippine uniform, Engelland only has good things to say about Philippine basketball and Filipino fans.
"Philippine basketball has the greatest fans in the world," he said. "I've always said that. They’re the best basketball fans in the world."
"I was always a huge fan of the PBA. Luckily, I got to play in it and play against some of the early greats in PBA history," he added.
"I'm a huge fan of Philippine basketball, and it just keeps growing across the world because of American-Filipinos who are going back and playing, representing their country. It's fantastic."
Blatche on Sunday arrived in Manila for a short visit, and for the first time met some of his future Gilas Pilipinas teammates.
"I'm here for a short term (visit)," Blatche said in a short press conference after his arrival. "What I wanna try to do is to learn the culture, to soak this in. This is an amazing opportunity, I really want to make the best of it." -- With a report from TJ Manotoc, ABS-CBN News