THE season-opening PBA Philippine Cup has only just begun, and yet fatigue had already set in for Rain or Shine teammates Gabe Norwood and Jeff Chan.
That, of course, is understandable. While other players recharged their batteries in the offseason, Norwood and Chan have been playing basketball non-stop for almost a year now owing to their stints with Smart Gilas 2.0 in back-to-back international tournaments.
The two joined the national team straight from an exhausting Governors Cup Finals against San Mig Coffee that went the entire seven-game distance. And hardly had they rested from seeing action for 19 days combined in the 34th William Jones Cup basketball tournament and the Fiba Asia Cup championship, respectively, now comes the Elasto Painters’ campaign for a back-to-back championship and a first ever all-Filipino crown.
Not that they’re complaining.
“Yes, there’s a little bit of a fatigue. But this is a blessing, a blessing to become part of two champion teams,” said Norwood after winning two cage titles – Governors Cup and Jones Cup - in just a span of a month last August.
“It’s crazy. It took me five years to get one, but now I have two. Not bad at all,” acknowledged the 2008-09 Rookie of the Year.
Chan said he used the little time he had in the offseason vacationing with his family, although not enough to really soothe his banged-up body.
“Nakapahinga ng konti, “ he said. “Nakatulong din naman kahit paano, kasi kaming dalawa ni Gabe tuluy-tuloy ang laro. The day after ng Game Seven (Governors Cup finals), nag-ensayo na kami agad sa national team for the Jones Cup.”
Like Norwood, the 29-year-old Chan also felt blessed, especially being named a part of the national team for the first time as a pro.
“As a PBA player first time ko ito. Dati naglaro ako sa national team sa SEA Games (2007 in Thailand), nag gold kami dun. Pero iba kasi `yung level ng play doon compared sa Asian. Ngayon mas mabigat `yung challenge,” added the former Far Eastern University shooting guard.
But having finally felt how it is to become champion, Chan and Norwood admitted their confidence level has definitely grown by leaps and bounds.
“Winning is contagious. Once you believe you're winners, you start to believe in it, and the people around you, too,” Norwood said.
That’s something the Elasto Painters could build on as they bid for the franchise’s first Philippine Cup title.