ANTIPOLO CITY – Jeff Chan admits he’s still far from game shape but is pleased to hit the ground running again for Barangay Ginebra.
The veteran gunner made his PBA Philippine Cup debut Saturday night at the Ynares Center when the Kings routed the Columbian Dyip, 97-85, to arrest a two-game slide.
Chan finished with only two points on 1-of-5 shooting from the field though he played for 20 minutes in his first game back after undergoing procedure on his left ankle during the off-season to remove bone spurs.
He’s timing not yet in place, the Bacolod native believes he’s just around 70 percent healthy at the moment.
“Wala pa, tsaka yung hingal ko, mabilis pa akong mapagod na parang ang bigat pa ng katawan ko,” he said after the Kings evened their record at 2-2. “Parang ang tagal kong nawala sa game.
“Hopefully as we play our games, medyo bumalik na yung rhythm.”
The forward out of Far Eastern University said there’s still pain in his ankle, but he’s trying to play through it.
“Sinusubukan ko lang (na ilaro),” he said. “Masaya na at least kahit paano nakatulong ng kaunti, at tsaka panalo, yun ang importante.”
In as much as Chan was grateful to be playing again, so is Ginebra coach Tim Cone.
“It’s nice to have Jeff back. He just changes the way teams play us when he’s available,” said Cone. “It’s been a long road back for him.”
The Ginebra coach disclosed Chan was already supposed to comeback for his first game last week against Rain or Shine, but the unfamiliarity of the playing court in Calasiao, Pangasinan forced the coaching staff to defer his return for the next game against the Dyip.
“So we decided to hold him off for one more week,” said Cone. “Sayang, we lost that game, and he might have been a difference maker.
“But we’re happy to have him now. Jeff was a real luxury for us tonight. His veteran smarts and his ability to spread the floor is really something that can separate us from a lot of the other teams. And it's just that we haven't have him yet. And its nice to have him now and we'll continue to develop that."