Gilas Pilipinas tapped Justin Brownlee to serve as reinforcement in the 19th Asian Games following his heroic performance in the men’s basketball event of the 32nd Southeast Asian Games last week.
No less than Gilas head coach Chot Reyes made the confirmation to Daily Tribune, saying that Brownlee’s dedication and willingness to represent the country made him a perfect choice to serve as naturalized player when they see action in the Asian Games set from 23 September to 8 October in Hangzhou, China.
Gilas came up with a strong performance in their previous stint in the Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018.
National Basketball Association star Jordan Clarkson of the Utah Jazz flew in to reinforce the national squad to a fifth-place finish behind champion China, Iran, South Korea and Chinese Taipei.
Clarkson, however, suited up as a local player while Christian Standhardinger and Stanley Pringle took turns in serving as naturalized players for the national squad handled by Yeng Guiao.
This time, Brownlee will play the role of a reinforcement after helping Gilas Pilipinas win the gold medal and redeem its shattered pride in the SEA Games that came to a close last Wednesday at the Morodok Techo National Stadium.
“Yes,” Reyes told Daily Tribune on Sunday when asked if Brownlee will play in the Asian Games.
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel head coach Tim Cone, who served as one of Reyes’ deputies in the SEA Games, attested to Bronwlee’s dedication in representing the country in the international arena.
‘He’s truly a Filipino and he embodies that character.’
He said it’s a luxury having Brownlee in the team since he already embraced the Filipino culture after serving as import in the PBA since 2016.
“I’ve said repeatedly that Justin greatly represents the Philippines because he acts like one of us and was embraced as one of our own. He’s truly a Filipino and he embodies that character,” said Cone, who won six of his 25 PBA titles with Bronwlee on board.
“But aside from that, it is his winning mentality that is so important which is why he deserves another shot.”
Gilas Pilipinas is set to open its training for the FIBA Basketball World Cup on 1 June.
Then, they will fly to Lithuania to set up a camp — the same place where they sharpened their skills in preparation for the FIBA World Championship in Spain in 2014.
Reyes admitted that he intends to bring both Brownlee and Clarkson in the Lithuanian camp, although they are still ironing out the kinks in the NBA players’ busy schedule.
“I don’t know if JC can make it to Lithuania,” said Reyes, who is now finalizing the availability of quality talents like June Mar Fajardo, Scottie Thompson and Japeth Aguilar as well as AJ Edu and Japan-based Kai Sotto, Dwight Ramos, Ray Parks and Thirdy and Kiefer Ravena.
After the World Cup, which will run from 25 August to 10 September, Gilas will go full blast in their training for the Asian Games in a bid to win a medal since clinching the bronze in the 1998 edition in Bangkok.