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Brownlee, Gilas pressured to deliver


Naturalized player Justin Brownlee embraces the challenge of leading Gilas Pilipinas in its quest to end a 25-year medal drought in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou starting 26 September.

The 35-year-old Barangay Ginebra import knows that all eyes will be on Gilas as fans are thirsty for good results following their forgettable run in the FIBA Basketball World Cup recently.

Gilas hope to get back at the Asian Games podium for the first time after claiming bronze in 1998 in Bangkok.

“I gotta say it’s pressure but good pressure. It’s pressure that athletes, and basketball players at this level in the pro level should be accustomed to. You should be able to accept it and deal with it,” Brownlee, a six-time Philippine Basketball Association champion and three-time Best Import award, said.

“At this point, yeah there’s pressure but I don’t think you should be bothered that much.”

Gilas Pilipinas is bunched with Middle Eastern teams Jordan and Bahrain and Southeast Asian rival Thailand in the preliminaries of the quadrennial meet.

Hopes are high for Gilas in the Asiad with more relaxed rules on naturalized players, giving Brownlee and Ange Kouame a chance to suit up at the same time.

Beefing up the team are members of the World Cup core that finished 24th out of 32 nations in June Mar Fajardo, Roger Pogoy, Japeth Aguilar and Scottie Thompson.

Also coming in for the tricolor are Chris Newsome, Calvin Oftana, Mo Tautuaa, Jason Perkins, alternate player Stanley Pringle and returning Gilas stars Calvin Abueva and Terrence Romeo.

“Both guys can bring something to the team. Calvin with his energy and tenacity on defense and offense can be a great plus to the team. Terrence everybody knows he can square with the best of the guards in the room. He has proven that by playing for Gilas in the past,” Brownlee, who led Gilas in reclaiming the SEA Games gold medal last May, said.

“I think with those two guys on the team they give different looks, but those looks that they give can be very effective.”

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