GUNNER Jeff Chan is expecting the best but bracing for the worst once Gilas Pilipinas begins its backbreaking schedule in the run-up to the Fiba-World Cup in Spain.
Following the scrapping of the team’s two-game friendlies against a selection of NBA players on Tuesday night, Chan said national coach Chot Reyes already gave them time to be with their respective families for the remainder of the week.
The team will then meet up early Friday morning at the airport to begin its long flight to Miami where the buildup for the World Cup kicks into high gear.
“Medyo mabigat ang feeling ko nga, kasi yung sa Lithuania last year saka New Zealand, parang two weeks, two weeks lang. Eh ito ngayon parang mga one-and-a-half months kaming malalayo,” Chan confided to Spin.ph on Wednesday.
Gilas actually travelled to the Balkan region of Lithuania in June last year for an intensive two-week training camp and tune-up games against top local clubs, before moving to New Zealand for a series of matches against club teams and the national squad known as the `Tall Blacks.’
Chan said being away from his family - his wife Donna and her daughters Amara (3) and Aerin (1) - is tough since Gilas will be out of the country for close to two months.
However, the upside of the long trip away from Manila is the focus Gilas will have as it prepares for the world championship and the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
“Malamang morning and evening ang practices namin sa Miami at dun na namin makakasama si Andray Blatche,” said Chan, referring to the Brooklyn Nets center who recently became a naturalized player for Gilas.
“Pero siyempre, marami rin kaming matututunan dun sa labas dahil focused lang kami sa gagawin namin, tapos magiging preparation na rin ang World Cup for the Asian Games,” he added.
Chan proved his worth as a Gilas gunner after averaging 9.1 points on 47.6 percent shooting from the three-point zone in the national team’s silver-medal finish in last year’s Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship in Manila.
Gilas is coming off a bronze medal finish in last week’s 5th Fiba Asia Cup after beating host team China, 80-79, behind Paul Lee’s three free throws with no time left.
Following the two-week training camp in Miami, Gilas will see action in a pocket tournament in France, along with exhibition matches in Europe before finally competing in the FIBA-World Cup in Seville, Spain in August.