In an effort to salvage the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup and become a legitimate basketball powerhouse, the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel has acquired veteran gunner Jeff Chan from the Phoenix Fuel Masters, in exchange for a first-round pick in next year's rookie draft.
Both teams are currently in the bottom six of the ongoing tournament, so change was imminent. The development couldn't have come at a more awkward time, as Ginebra and Phoenix were practicing "at almost the same time" at The Upper Deck Sports Center in Pasig. All Chan, who suited up for the Fuel Masters for barely a year, had to do was switch courts when the news broke.
"It's always tough to give up a part of your future through first-round picks, especially for veteran players," Gin Kings head coach Tim Cone admitted to SPIN.ph. "But Jeff (11.5 ppg 35% 3pt 4.4 rpg 4.1 apg this conference) obviously fills a big hole for us. His ability to spread the floor for Greg (Slaughter) and Japeth (Aguilar) could spell the difference."
While many assume that Ginebra won the trade for bolstering its already deep lineup with a proven scorer in the two-time champion and six-time All-Star, few can see the bigger picture and the advantages that letting Chan go give to Phoenix. FHM breaks down the shocking deal and why we think that there are no losers here.
The most obvious benefit of having a dead-eye shooter like Chan is his ability to space the floor for a lineup that banners three bigs almost always. His addition unlocks a world of rotational possibilities for Cone, who will have the luxury of a designated sniper, and a consistent one at that. As for the 34-year-old marksman, his championship window is suddenly open, and he doesn't have to waste what is left of his prime in a mentor role like when he was with the Fuel Masters.
Ginebra couldn't care less about giving up the chance to draft a raw prospect, especially with its slew of young talent that has yet to be developed (Prince Caperal, Jett Manuel). If the Barangay isn't already one of the favorites to win it all, adding Chan turns the team into an instant contender. Cone put it best when he described the "Negros Sniper" as "a guy who can lift us to a higher level."
With the departure of Chan, the newbie franchise can focus again on youth movement (Willy Wilson is its lone player over 35). Instead of helplessly watching another campaign go for naught, now is the perfect time for coach Louie Alas to hand over the keys to his up-and-coming stars. More than RJ Jazul and LA Revilla, Matthew Wright will be unleashed, without having to fight for minutes and touches with a player who has pretty much the same position and skill set.
Of course, what sweetened the pot for the Fuel Masters is the opportunity to build on their future through the 2019 class, where the likes of Ray Parks, CJ Perez, and Robert Bolick are expected to be available. Even if Ginebra gets its act together in the next two conferences, Alas is well aware that a "first-round (pick) is still first round," which means more fresh legs for Phoenix.