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‘Justin Noypi’ completes basketball journey

‘You are now a Filipino.’

Barangay Ginebra San Miguel import Justin Brownlee finally completed his basketball journey after his application for naturalization was signed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. late Thursday.

Brownlee was elated over the development, saying that it completed his journey from being an unknown replacement American to becoming one of the most beloved and decorated import ever to see action in the league.

With Brownlee being granted Philippine passport, he can now play for Gilas Pilipinas in various international tournaments such as the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, the 32nd Southeast Asian Games and the 19th Asian Games.

“That would make my journey complete,” said Brownlee, who first suited up for the Kings as replacement for the injured Paul Harris in the 2016 Commissioner’s Cup.

“I love the culture. I love how the passion they’re sharing for the game and playing for the Philippine team will be a fitting culmination of my deep love for the country.”

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios thanked the lawmakers for the swift passage of Brownlee’s application for naturalization.

“It would definitely strengthen our Gilas Pilipinas lineup for the upcoming February W6 Qualifiers,” Barrios said.

“Both chambers in Congress enthusiastically worked hard and fast for the passage of Brownlee’s naturalization.”

House Speaker Martin Romualdez also congratulated Brownlee for gaining his Filipino citizenship.

“You are now a Filipino,” he said in a statement.

“We hope that you will be a good citizen and an excellent example for our people, especially the youth. Lead the Philippine Gilas team to victory in the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers.”

Gilas coach Chot Reyes had two important words for the official inclusion of Brownlee in the program.

“Grateful and hopeful,” wrote Reyes in a text message to Daily Tribune.

Right after the ongoing PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven championship series between Ginebra and Bay Area, Reyes can start the national team training in preparation for the sixth window of the Asian Qualifiers to be held at the Philippine Arena.

Brownlee is looking to win his sixth championship with the Kings, which will put him a tie with former Alaska reinforcement Sean Chambers as the imports with the most number of PBA titles.

Now ranked as fifth overall in the all-time list for most points among imports, Brownlee is now also the No. 1 all-time three-point shot leader among imports who played here.

But more than that, Brownlee has a new moniker in ‘Justin Noypi.’

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