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Cone on Brownlee: He is a role model

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF ALFRANCIS CHUA/IG | JUSTIN Brownlee (right) pays San Miguel Corporation sports director Alfrancis Chua a visit shortly after arriving in the country from a three-month suspension.

Justin Brownlee, the beloved six-time Philippine Basketball Association champion, arrived on Tuesday ahead of Gilas Pilipinas’ first practice session in preparation for the opening window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers this month.

Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tim Cone expressed elation over the presence of the naturalized player, who underwent a provisional suspension for three months after testing positive for a banned substance in the aftermath of their historic finish in the 19th Asian Games last year.

Cone said it will not take long before Brownlee gets back into the thick of things.

“Justin knows our system, in and out,” wrote Cone in a Viber message to DAILY TRIBUNE.

“He’s a great model and mentor for the other players.”

Brownlee, for his part, also expressed excitement to represent the Filipinos in the event that will serve as a gateway to the prestigious continental battle set in Lebanon next year.

“It’s great to be back,” Brownlee said in an interview with TV5.

“I’m super excited to be back.”      

Cone and Brownlee share a lot of special memories.

Aside from winning six PBA crowns for Barangay Ginebra, Cone and Brownlee were also together when Gilas Pilipinas regained the Southeast Asian Games gold medal as well as when it ended its 61-year title drought in the Asian Games.

That’s why Cone is so happy to be reunited with the 35-year-old Brownlee, who stayed out of the radar for three months just to be available for future international assignments.

 “I’m just happy for him,” Cone said.

“I know how difficult this process has been for him, and the worry and stress it has caused. Now he can get back to furthering his legacy with Gilas.”

Brownlee is set to be formally cleared on 9 February, making him available to join the Gilas training that starts on 15 February.

Aside from Brownlee, also part of the Gilas squad are PBA stars June Mar Fajardo, CJ Perez, Jamie Malonzo, Scottie Thompson, Chris Newsome, and Calvin Oftana as well as Japan B. League players Dwight Ramos, Kai Sotto, AJ Edu and Carl Tamayo.

University Athletic Association of the Philippines Most Valuable Player Kevin Quiambao is also part of the team that will stay for the next four years. 

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