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Justin Brownlee back in PH, to join Gilas

by Bryan Gadingan

AFTER three months of waiting, Justin Brownlee returned to the Philippines on Tuesday after he was cleared to play basketball again and just weeks before Gilas Pilipinas begins their training camp for the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers.

The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) said on Saturday that FIBA cleared Brownlee to play after an “anti-doping rule violation” at the 19th Asian Games.

“I can’t wait to play basketball again and put all of this behind me,” said Brownlee in a statement. “It’s always been an honor to represent the Philippines and I’m happy to be given the chance again.”

SBP president Al Panlilio said Brownlee’s clearance will aid the national team. Given the short preparation period, he believes this brings familiarity to the table.

“We’re elated that the consequences FIBA issued does not prevent Justin Brownlee to play for Gilas in the upcoming window,” he said in a statement.

“Having him as our naturalized player alongside some of our locals that he has already played with before will be beneficial to the squad.”

Brownlee was forced to miss Barangay Ginebra’s title defense in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, causing them to lose 0-3 against sister team San Miguel Beermen. 

Meanwhile, someone from the San Miguel Corporation (SMC) undoubtedly missed the cager who played for them. 

SMC sports director Alfrancis Chua was quick to post an Instagram photo with the naturalized Filipino at the SMC offices in Ortigas, Pasig City, as they celebrated Brownlee’s homecoming.

Photo Courtesy: @alfrancischua | Instagram

The naturalized Pinoy will rejoin Tim Cone, the newest Gilas head coach and longtime Ginebra mentor. “Justin Brownlee is a big part of the team and the program moving forward and having him means we can hit the ground running,” said Cone. 

“He’s already played with most of the guys so chemistry will already be there. He can now ramp up his conditioning and be ready to go once his suspension is lifted,” he added.

Brownlee will play alongside Scottie Thompson, Jamie Malonzo, CJ Perez, June Mar Fajardo, Calvin Oftana and Chris Newsome in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).

They are joined by Japanese B.League players Kai Sotto, AJ Edu and Dwight Ramos, as well as budding guns Carl Tamayo and Kevin Quiambao, the reigning UAAP MVP.

The Gilas Pilipinas men’s basketball team will play Hong Kong on the road on February 22 and Chinese Taipei at home on the 25th.



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