HANGZHOU, China — Justin Brownlee believes he won’t have any problems dealing with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s “friendliness” once the “ball goes up” for the Gilas Pilipinas-Jordan game in the 19th Asian Games on Saturday.
His “80 to 85 percent” state of recovery from foot surgery — as Gilas head coach Tim Cone earlier estimated — will neither be a cause for concern, Brownlee assures.
“I feel good, I feel confident, so when the game starts, there’s not gonna be the focus about any handicap, not even a thought about it,” he says before practice Friday afternoon at the training facility of the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center.
“When you get in those lines and the ball goes up, everybody is a hundred percent or, you know, at least a hundred percent effort. That’s the main thing that matters.”
Brownlee adds: “At this point, after a couple of games, people get banged up and get tired and, you know, sore and things like that. But for the most part, we just gotta go out and give a hundred percent effort and I think everything’s gonna take care of itself.”
While he is unfamiliar with a little-known quote attributed to National Basketball Association icon Michael Jordan, who is supposed to have said, “You have to hate the other guys a little in order to beat them” — or words to that effect — Brownlee is asked nonetheless if he intends to heed MJ’s counsel and foster some kind of animosity toward a friendly opponent like Hollis-Jefferson to gain an edge going to the 5:30 pm. game.
Would that be a difficult thing for him to do?
“Of course, it’s gonna be difficult,” he says, chuckling.
“Michael Jordan, obviously, is different, the greatest player ever. But me, I don’t think I can ever hate someone just because we’re competing against each other in play.”
“As far as, you know, playing with fire and competing at the highest level with somebody, I’m definitely willing to do that every time I step on the court.”
“So it’s not about hating him because Rondae, he’s a likable guy. You know, he’s always smilin’ and greetin’ and has all respect and kindness, and you gonna respect that also. But once we’re on those lines, it’s all about competition.”
Brownlee is again asked: As Magic Johnson once described his relationship with longtime buddy and cheek-bussing rival Isiah Thomas, “We’re friends, before and after [a game], not during.”?
Laughing, Brownlee says, “Yeah, yeah, something like that!”