SEAN Chambers wore a red shirt as he made a surprise visit to Gilas Pilipinas practice on Sunday morning, but gladly changed to a blue Pilipinas collared shirt the coaching staff gave him after the training session and as he talked to reporters.
The longtime Alaska import, in town as consultant for the Aces, is open to do the same for the national team.
“That's starting to come more and more of my desire ... to like come back to my second home,” Chambers said when asked about the possibility of being a member of the Gilas coaching staff. “It's no secret how much I love the Philippines after what it has done for me.”
“I was telling coach Reyes we have brought over 25 overseas teachers to California to come teach there and I was a big part of the recruitment to get back to the country that had given me so much as a player and as a man,” he added. “But absolutely, mahal kita talaga, Pilipinas.”
Chambers, now the dean of students at Fern Bacon Middle School in California, played under Reyes, who was one of Tim Cone's assistants at Alaska in the early 1990s.
“You know, when I first came here in the Philippines, this was the very first gym I practiced at,” Chambers said of the Meralco gym. “And in my first championship in Alaska, Coach Chot was a very big part of the coaching staff. Our relationship goes way back since 1989, 1991, when we won our first championship with Alaska.
“So many things that they do, as far as their offense and their schemes matter, are some of the things I do back in the States in California,” he added. “It was an honor to talk to Coach Reyes and allow me to come over and watch the guys and see the hard work they're putting in to represent the country.”
Chambers particuarly marveled at Japeth Aguilar and Kiefer Ravena, whose fathers, Peter and Bong, were among the legendary import's contemporaries in the PBA.
“Kids like Japeth and Ravena, those guys were kids when I was just retiring in my career, and it's amazing to see where they're at today,” Chambers said. “It's an amazing honor for me to be here.”
Chambers is optimistic Gilas can make a mark in the Fiba World Cup Qualifiers starting on Friday against Japan.
“Very impressed with the big players – June and Japeth, and Almazan, they're such tremendous skilled level players,” Chambers said. “And then the guard play, I've always been impressed with Jayson and Gabe as they've been playing for such a long time. I think I watch Philippine basketball as much as I watch the NBA back home, so I'm up early morning watching games.
“But I was really very impressed with Kiefer; he's really good. I think the chances of winning and representing the country is very high,” he added.
As Gilas huddled at the end of practice, Chambers reminded them of making their countrymen here and abroad proud.
“Like I told them, this is so much bigger than them as individuals,” Chambers said. “All the Filipino workers overseas and here, myself, anybody that has a kind of love and respect for the Philippines, this is something we all watch and we're definitely all rooting for them.”