Justin Brownlee finally suiting up as a naturalized player may become a reality in the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio said he hopes the 34-year-old resident import of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the Philippine Basketball Association could finalize his naturalization this year, making available for the sixth window that the country will host at the Philippine Arena in February.
“I’m hopeful,” Panlilio told Daily Tribune in an interview.
“We’re hosting it and, at the same time, facing Lebanon and Jordan, so it’s quite an interesting two games for us. The last window is a preparatory as well for us before the training for the World Cup.”
Brownlee is no stranger to playing on the big stage.
In fact, Brownlee and the Kings drew a record-breaking crowd of 54,086 when they battled Meralco in Game 7 of the PBA Governor’s Cup in 2017.
Now, the two-time PBA Best Import awardee gets another chance to set yet another record, this time in a FIBA-sanctioned event against a team that Gilas badly want to beat.
The Filipinos will be eyeing a payback when they face the Lebanese after the West Asian giants defeated them, 85-81, in the fourth window in Beirut last August.
Worse, Lebanese star Wael Arakji rubbed salt to the wound by saying that “when you’re in my town, you go by my rules.”
Ginebra coach Tim Cone said there’s no better player to lead them in the sixth window than Brownlee.
“Our game against Lebanon is going to be a much-awaited one for the Filipino fans,” said Cone, who serves as assistant coach of Chot Reyes in the Gilas program.
“We played at their lair last August, now they’re playing at our lair. But we don’t have Jordan Clarkson and we’re hoping we’ll have Justin by that time.”