Brownlee juggles Ginebra, Gilas duties

Justin Brownlee faces the tough task of balancing his roles as Gilas Pilipinas naturalized player and Ginebra import in the PBA. Photo by Rio Deluvio

Now that he is already a naturalized citizen, Justin Brownlee is facing a challenging setup of balancing his chores with Gilas Pilipinas and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the Governors’ Cup of the Philippine Basketball Association that starts on Sunday at Philsports Arena.

Kings coach Tim Cone said he is curious to see how Brownlee can effectively fulfill his roles as Gilas Pilipinas naturalized player and resident import of the most popular ballclub in the country.

Tough tasks await Brownlee in the coming months.

After having his application for naturalization approved, Brownlee will suit up for Gilas Pilipinas in the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers that will be held at the Philippine Arena next month. The Filipinos will face Lebanon on 24 February before tackling Jordan on 27 February.

If plans do not miscarry, Brownlee will also suit up for the national squad when it seeks to regain its title in the men’s basketball event of the 32nd Southeast Asian Games.

Gilas Pilipinas is set to open its training camp on Monday.

Joining Brownlee in the Gilas pool are Scottie Thompson, Kiefer Ravena, CJ Perez, Chris Newsome, Jerom Lastimosa, Roger Pogoy, Jordan Heading, Ray Parks, Francis Lopez and Schonny Winston in the backcourt.

Meanwhile, Dwight Ramos, Thirdy Ravena, Jamie Malonzo, Calvin Oftana, Arvin Tolentino, Japeth Aguilar, Kevin Quiambao, Carl Tamayo and Ateneo prospect Mason Amos will be patrol the shaded lanes.

Rounding up the pool are slotmen June Mar Fajardo, Kai Sotto, Japeth Aguilar and Ange Kouame.

On the same note, he also has an important mission with the Kings.

In fact, Ginebra will be marching in the season-ending conference with the ultimate mission of defending its title against heavyweights like San Miguel Beer, TNT Tropang Giga and Magnolia.

Cone said he wants to see how Brownlee can effectively fulfill both roles.

“I’m curious to see how Justin will do the balancing act helping our title defense and, at the same time, playing for Gilas,” Cone, owner of 25 PBA titles, told Daily Tribune.

“It’s going to be tougher for him and all the more that I’m curious to see how a great player that he will respond to this challenge.”

Cone also serves as assistant coach of Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes and looks forward to joining the 34-year-old Brownlee in the national squad.

He stressed that he’s pumped up to see Brownlee bannering Gilas in their rematch against Lebanon, which broke the hearts of the Filipinos with an 85-81 victory in the fourth window in Beirut.

“That’s the game everyone wants to see,” Cone said.

“They beat us on their turf and now they will come to our turf and, hopefully, we can have the 50,000-plus fans cheering for us and serving as our sixth man.”

Cone said Brownlee is fit to perform before a massive crowd.

With Brownlee at the helm, the Kings creamed visiting Bay Area in Game 7 of their Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven finals series – an encounter that was played in front of 54,589 roaring fans.

The American mentor said Brownlee will definitely be pumped up as he is eager to reward his countrymen with an impressive win, especially against the rugged Lebanese.

“No doubt about it,” Cone said.

“It couldn’t come at a perfect time. The timing of having Brownlee receiving his Philippine citizenship was so right it motivated him even more.”

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