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What’s next for Justin Brownlee?

by Bryan Gadingan

AFTER failing the doping test due to traces of cannabis found in his sample, Gilas Pilipinas’ Justin Brownlee faces a difficult period in his career because of a possible two-year suspension.

It may be recalled that Kiefer Ravena was suspended for 18 months in 2018 after testing positive in a World Cup qualifier against Australia. As a result, the star guard was forced to miss NLEX’s PBA games for the duration of the FIBA suspension.

The International Testing Agency (ITA) gave Gilas Pilipinas’ naturalized player till Thursday to decide if he would use his right to test the sample B. 

The sample B analysis might be used to confirm or refute the positive result from his sample A. Alfrancis Chua, Gilas team manager and San Miguel sports director, believes that seeking the B-sample will not change anything.

Para maintindihan ng lahat, ang sinasabi namin huwag na lang. Kasi ‘yung B, ‘yun pa rin ‘yung ihi niya. Hindi siya i-tetest ng panibagong urine,” said Chua during the PBA pre-season press conference.

So kung ano ‘yung urine niya before, ilalagay iyon sa dalawang canister sa China, and then if they open the other one, ‘yung pangalawa ‘pag in-open nila, ‘yon pa rin ‘yon,” he clarified.

Abraham Tolentino, president of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), believes Brownlee might have used banned substance-containing medication to help him recuperate rapidly from his surgery.

Brownlee’s punishment can be reduced to one to three months if he and the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) successfully appeal his case before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

This explains why Chua chooses not to use sample B, as contesting the positive test carries the risk of a longer penalty.

Barangay Ginebra’s status in Commissioner’s Cup

Chua and the entire Barangay Ginebra, as well as the SBP, are awaiting the final ruling in the aforementioned case. “We’re just gonna wait, kung anong sasabihin nila at saka ng SBP. As of now, ‘wait-and-see’ kami kung ano ang gagawin kay Bronwlee,” he said.

The Gin Kings are bracing themselves for a conference without the three-time best import, because of the potential two-year ban from FIBA-sanctioned basketball tournaments.

“As of now, nakalutang kaming lahat eh, we’re blinded, so we’re just gonna wait. So as of now, naghahanap kami ng replacement, just in case,” Chua said. 

Barangay Ginebra will defend its title and begin its Commissioner’s Cup bid against Converge on November 17. 

Brownlee’s legacy

Despite these challenges, Brownlee’s career in the country has been distinguished. This explains why he is one of the most popular players/imports to have ever worn any jersey in the country.

Brownlee began his stint in the Philippines by helping Ginebra in 2016 to secure their first championship in eight years, with their last winning title in 2008.

In 2018, he led the Gin Kings to victory in the Commissioner’s Cup championship, which was last held by Ginebra in 1997. In the same year, he helped Alab Pilipinas win their first ABL franchise championship.

This year, the naturalized player helped Gilas Pilipinas reclaim the gold title after defeating the controversial Cambodian team in the SEA Games. It is worth recalling that Gilas Pilipinas lost the gold medal to Indonesia in the 2022 games.

Just a few weeks ago, Brownlee made another historic run by leading Gilas Pilipinas’ triumph in the Asian Games, ending the country’s 61-year gold medal drought.

Gilas fans and Ginebra supporters remain optimistic that the naturalized athlete would be able to prove that the substance use was linked to medicinal purposes.

Whatever the outcome, Brownlee’s legacy in Philippine basketball should not be diminished.



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