MANILA, Philippines – The Justin Brownlee show was in full swing at the Araneta Coliseum as Barangay Ginebra punched a return ticket to the PBA Governors’ Cup finals off a semifinals Game 4 elimination of the NLEX Road Warriors on Wednesday, March 30.
As the superstar import was rightfully thrust under the post-game spotlight after a playoff career-high 47-point explosion, Ginebra head coach Tim Cone still made it a point to praise the man who came in second on the scoreboard, veteran Jeff Chan.
“Jeff was the forgotten man, you know? It’s funny. He was like the forgotten man, kind of holding on, just looking to play a little bit here and there, and then he just steps up,” he said. “When we most needed him, he stepped up and just played huge.”
While Brownlee was going crazy on both sides of the ball, it was the “Negros Sniper” who backstopped his efforts with timely triples as he ended with 12 of his 20 points in the first half alone.
This eruption made it difficult for Cone to stagger Chan’s minutes, as the 39-year-old was already coming off multiple injuries before his recent healthy stretch for Ginebra.
“I didn’t want to extend him, because you know, it’s tough for him to play at a real physical level for 10, 12 minutes at a time,” he said.
“But I thought his couple of threes in the beginning of the game, when NLEX came out with so much fire, kept us in the game, and settled the whole team down.”
In the end, Chan finished with a 30-minute workload, and made the most of it with a 5-of-8 clip from downtown.
Cone’s apprehension regarding his minutes was clearly understandable, as Ginebra was already missing key cogs Japeth Aguilar and Stanley Pringle, but he was nonetheless pleased with how things turned out for his veteran ward.
“I thought [Chan’s threes] might have been the key to the whole game,” he said. “Otherwise, I think NLEX would have blown us out without those clutch shots by Jeff.”
The Gin Kings, after limping to the playoffs as a sixth seed, can now sit back and relax a little bit as they await their finals foe, and as Cone pointed out, they wouldn’t have been in this position without Chan. – Rappler.com