JEFF Chan had been with Rain or Shine long enough to think that he would not wear another uniform, but he found out that things don’t always work out the way you want them to.
After spending almost nine seasons with the Elasto Painters, the veteran gunner bid goodbye to his team after getting shipped to Phoenix on Monday in exchange for Mark Borboran and a 2017 second-round pick.
“Surprised because I think naging loyal naman ako dun,” Chan said in chat with SPIN.ph on Tuesday after Phoenix practice. “Isa ako sa players na nakabigay ng championship sa kanila. Nagkaroon ako ng awards dun, so syempre nagulat ka rin kung bakit, 'di ba?
“Pero ganun talaga, buhay ng basketball,” the 2012 Governors’ Cup Finals MVP added.
And the person who reminded him of that uncertainty was none other than former teammate James Yap, the longtime face of the Purefoods franchise who was shockingly traded to ROS for Paul Lee before the start of the season.
“Sinabi nga sa'kin ni James, 'NPA tayo, 'di ba?' No permanent address talaga,” Chan said. "So kailangan mo lang i-cherish, i-enjoy ang every moment mo as a basketball player kung san ka mang team kasi you never know kung ma-trade ka man o mawalan ka ng kontrata or what. Yun lang naman buhay ng basketball.”
Still, Chan admitted he thought he would retire as an Elasto Painter.
“(That’s what) I thought, pero I guess not,” the 33-year-old cager said. “Pero I take this as a challenge for me na lang. Sinabi ko noon, sometimes as a player, maganda rin yung may mga bagong challenges eh. It adds motivation, 'di ba?
“So hopefully itong changes na 'to ma-motivate yung sarili ko na mabigyan yung team ng magandang position this conference,” he added as he comes into a team that has lost its last three games following a two-win start to the Governors’ Cup. “And if not this conference, sa susunod. We'll see.”
Phoenix coach Ariel Vanguardia echoed his new ward’s sentiments, expecting this reboot to rejuvenate Chan’s career.
“Challenge for him is parang rebirth ng career niya,” Vanguardia said. “Minsan, it takes mga ganyang situations – ma-trade, para mabuhay ulit.”
Chan, who averaged nine points on 48-percent shooting, 1.7 assists, and 0.7 rebound, against 2.3 turnovers in 23 minutes in his first three games this conference, is tempering expectations, though.
“Hindi ko pa masabi, kasi ilang days pa lang naman ako so hindi ko pa talaga alam ang role ko,” Chan said. “Pero ang alam ko lang, nung nag-usap kami ng coaches and management, gusto nila madagdagan ng veteran na pwede mag-guide dun sa mga bago nila, kasi medyo mahiyain daw yung mga bata.
“As long as makatulong ako sa team – whether marami o konting minutes, okay na yun basta manalo kami,” he added.