Why the Jeff Chan trade is a game changer for Ginebra
MANILA, Philippines – Struggling to find its footing in the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup, Barangay Ginebra altered its trajectory with a momentum-building 104-84 victory over rival Magnolia in the latest installment of Manila Clasico last Sunday, June 17.
Led by 35 points from super import Justin Brownlee and 22 points from LA Tenorio, it was the 7th straight win for the Gin Kings against the Magnolia franchise.
The victory also improved the record of Ginebra to 3-5, putting the team in 9th place in the standings and in position to claim a postseason berth.
But even after demolishing its rivals, arguably the bigger victory for Ginebra arrived on Monday morning, June 18, when the PBA approved a trade that sent Phoenix shooter Jeff Chan to the Gin Kings in exchange for a first round draft pick this year.
Chan, 34, is a 10-year pro who needs no introduction. He will one day go down as one of the greatest shooters ever in PBA history, making him the type of player that immediately fills a need for Tim Cone.
"We've been targeting him for months now because we have always seen him as a guy who can lift us to a higher level," Cone told the media following the trade approval.
"If we can get two or 3 good years from Jeff, then the sacrifice of our first round pick will be worth it," he later added.
Any team coached by a 20-time champion like Cone or any franchise with a fan base like Ginebra's will never be satisfied by just making the playoffs.
The Gin Kings have won two championships since their new head coach took over two seasons ago and will undoubtedly be entering this conference's playoffs with the expectation of hoisting another trophy.
Chan, a long-range gunner as good as anyone in Philippine basketball today, increases the likelihood of that happening.
Ginebra is currently ranked 7th in outside shooting in the Commissioner's Cup, with a 30% clip. That number is actually closer to the lowest-ranked team, San Miguel (27%), than it is to Alaska (34%), who is 3rd in the conference leaderboard. The top two teams, Meralco (38%) and TNT (37%), have a combined 13-5 record.
Chan, shooting 35% on nearly 5 and a half attempts from 3-point range this conference, will immediately improve Ginebra's perimeter arsenal.
Aside from Tenorio, he's already the team's best local sniper. Add Brownlee to the mix and suddenly both Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar will have clearer paths to the rim for easy scoring opportunities.
When Ginebra's opponents contemplate double-teaming either Slaughter or Aguilar, it suddenly becomes a pick-your-poison situation.
Can opposing coaches trust their players will recover in time to properly contest a jumper from Chan, Tenorio, Brownlee, or other Ginebra gunners? If no double team is sent to the big men, their height is enough to get easy baskets at the rim.
Chan's arrival will also relieve the burden for other players on the team.
Scottie Thompson, a 32% 3-point shooter, will have more playmaking responsibilities in order to keep Tenorio's legs fresh come the semis and maybe the finals.
The pressure on guys like Sol Mercado, Mark Caguioa, Kevin Ferrer, and Joe Devance to score will also be lessened. Overall, an already good team only becomes more lethal.
There's no undermining the value Chan brings in terms of experience.
He's been to multiple finals, has won two championships, and was even named Finals MVP in the 2012 Governors' Cup. He's hit big shots in clutch situations both in the PBA and international play, so Cone can be sure that when it's time for someone to deliver in the late stages of the 4th quarter for the Gin Kings, Chan is someone he can rely on to do just that.
Safe to say he'll also be waking up Ginebra crowds with big 3-pointers a whole lot over the next few months.
What makes this trade better for Ginebra is that it's got low-risk, high-reward potential written all over it.
The draft pick sent by the Gin Kings to Phoenix will likely land in the middle to late portion of the first round, and by then most of the franchise players available like Ray Parks, CJ Perez, and Robert Bolick will have already been taken.
Besides, Ginebra already has young studs like Thompson, Ferrer, Aljon Mariano, and Jett Manuel in its roster to continue developing over the next few years.
Chan fills a need for the team in the present, where they can compete for titles, and his addition may keep Ginebra in better condition for championship contention in the future, too.
Chan may have only a few years left of being an elite PBA player, but he could very well help Ginebra bask in even more glory. – Rappler.com