RAIN or Shine and Gilas Pilipinas gunner Jeff Chan was thrilled to learn his NBA idol Manu Ginobili has declared his availability to play for Argentina in this year’s Fiba-World Cup in Spain.
Chan, who like Ginobili is a left-hander shooter, admitted he idolizes Ginobili and has been carefully studying the moves of the 37-year-old veteran star of the San Antonio Spurs for years.
“Maganda yun, excited na ako makalaban siya (Ginobili). Isa sa mga idols ko 'yun eh, kaliwete pa 'yun,” Chan shared to Spin.ph, unable to hide his excitement.
“Pero hirap gayahin (Ginobili’s style) eh, tina-try ko pero di ko kaya.”
Gilas coach Chot Reyes also welcomed the news that Ginobili will likely suit up for Argentina in the Spain showpiece - but for a different reason.
"That's great for us," he said. "At least pag tinalo natin sila (Argentina), hindi nila puwedeng sabihin na dahil wala si Manu Ginobili."
Ginobili announced his availability to play for Argentina shortly after Spurs won their fifth NBA title last week following a sound beating of Lebron James and the Miami Heat in the Finals.
Chan, the former Far Eastern University stalwart, said this early he’s excited to play against the many-time NBA champion since Gilas is in the same bracket as Argentina in the August 31 to Sept. 14 meet.
Other countries in Group B include Senegal, Puerto Rico, Greece, and Croatia.
“Sana ma-match up ko siya, at babantayan ko talaga 'yun. Excited lang ako, kasi nung una, iniisip ko baka di siya maglaro kasi 'yung age niya nga. Pero happy ako na maglalaro siya,” he added.
Ginobili, one of Argentina’s most popular basketball heroes, steered his country to a gold medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics. He also played a vital role in Argentina’s runner-up finish in the 2002 Fiba-World Cup in Indianapolis, USA.
Gilas will have its highly-anticipated World Cup collision with Argentina on September 1 in Seville.