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Brownlee glad to be back

Justin Brownlee, getting acitation from the PBA for his role in the Hangzhou Asian Games, gets an outpouring of love from fans upon his return to the country. | Photograph by Joey Sanchez Mendoza for the Daily Tribune

Six-time Philippine Basketball Association champion Justin Brownlee is glad to be back — both as Gilas Pilipinas player and Barangay Ginebra reinforcement.

Speaking to the media for the first time prior to the start of Game 4 of the Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven finals series between Magnolia and San Miguel on Friday, Brownlee heaved a sigh of relief, saying that he is glad that his three-month hiatus is finally over.

“It feels good,” Brownlee, who arrived on Tuesday, said.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment for the past three months and I’ve been greeted with a lot of love. It feels good to be back in the Philippines.”

Brownlee was showered with cheers when he stepped foot at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

He was treated as a returning war hero after leading Gilas Pilipinas to its first Asian Games title in 61 years during the 19th edition in Hangzhou, China last year.

But the celebration was short lived as Brownlee tested positive for cannabis, a substance that is prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Instead of playing while appealing his case, Brownlee sat out the next three months and skipped the Commissioner’s Cup, giving the International Basketball Federation a good reason to reinstate him for the FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers later this month.

Brownlee said the moment where he was embraced as a hero by the basketball-loving Filipinos truly made him feel at home.

“I never thought someone would look at me as their hero,” Brownlee said.

“I definitely enjoyed it and embraced it. It’s something I could cherish and being acknowledged as a hero means you’ve accomplished something bigger in your life.”

Brownlee added that couldn’t wait to get back to bring joy and happiness not just to the Ginebra fans, but also to the entire nation who have been rooting for them in the international arena.

“Nothing has made me happier seeing the Filipinos happy,” Brownlee added.

“You see the fans, teammates, coaches just being a part of that journey.”

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