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GILAS IN TROUBLE | Brownlee set to miss Asian Games?

Justin Brownlee: His health condition is a big concern. (Photo from FIBA)

As if the resignation of head coach Chot Reyes isn’t enough, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is facing yet another massive problem as naturalized player Justin Brownlee is doubtful to join the Gilas Pilipinas squad that will see action in the 19th Asian Games.

A reliable source told DAILY TRIBUNE that the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel import has yet to fully recover after undergoing surgery to remove bone spurs on his foot last month, making him doubtful for the prestigious biennial event set from 23 September to 8 October.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the 35-year-old Brownlee is not yet in playing condition to the point that the Kings doubt his availability for the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup set to open on 15 October.

“He has not yet recovered,” the source said, adding that 6-foot-10 Ange Kouame will be the only naturalized player available for the Asian Games.

“We don’t even know if he will be fit to play in the coming PBA season.”

Brownlee’s absence will be a major blow to the Gilas squad that is facing the absence of Reyes and, possibly, his assistant in Tim Cone in the Asian Games.

Also set to miss the Asian Games is Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser.

Ganuelas-Rosser, who was part of the squad that clinched the gold medal in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Phnom Penh, disclosed to DAILY TRIBUNE that he will not be available for the Asian Games since he needs to recover from a fractured tibia.

“For most of the PBA conference and the SEA Games, I was playing with a fracture on my tibia,” Ganuelas-Rosser said in an online exchange.

“I had no clue so I was very lucky my leg wasn’t hurt badly while I was playing.”

Brownlee and Ganuelas-Rosser are part of the 14-man team submitted by the SBP to the Philippine Olympic Committee in its Entry by Names.

Also included are Kiefer Ravena, Scottie Thompson, Roger Pogoy, June Mar Fajardo, CJ Perez, Japeth Aguilar, Jamie Malonzo, Calvin Oftana and Chris Newsome.

With Gilas in disarray, SBP president Al Panlilio sat in a top-level meeting with PBA commissioner Willie Marcial, PBA chairman Ricky Vargas, PBA vice chairman Bobby Rosales, and San Miguel Corporation sports director Alfrancis Chua to plot the formation of the Gilas squad in the Asian Games.

No statement was issued after the meeting hosted by SMC president Ramon Ang at the Makati Diamond Residences on Tuesday, but the PBA and the SBP scheduled a press briefing on Thursday.

But in an interview, Marcial stressed that they need to look for a new Gilas coach after Reyes “stepped aside” in the aftermath of the squad’s dismal performance in the World Cup.

Multiple sources told DAILY TRIBUNE that Cone and Jong Uichico are said to be the frontrunners while TNT Tropang Giga head coach Jojo Lastimosa could also be considered due to his affiliation with the MVP Group.

Uichico already begged off from calling the shots while Lastimosa, stressed that he would rather focus on the Tropang Giga in the coming Commissioner’s Cup.

Cone, for his part, also stressed that he will turn down the offer — if there would be any.

“With Chot stepping down, I don’t think I’ll be a part of the Gilas program,” Cone said.

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