By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

THE IMPORT-laden Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup kicked off at the weekend and for reinforcement Justin Brownlee of the defending champions Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings, he is ready to lead his team anew even as he said the field is going to be tough.

Tapped once again by the Kings to banner their campaign in the midseason PBA tournament, Mr. Brownlee said he is coming into the competition fresh and ready and that with help from the rest of the team they have a good chance of repeating as champions.

Mr. Brownlee, now on his sixth tour of duty with Barangay Ginebra since 2016, is coming off a championship stint in the Lebanese league where he helped Sporting Al Riyadi Beirut to the title.

“I feel great entering the new conference. I’m fresh and the tournament I played in previously helped me to stay in shape,” the 31-year-old Brownlee shared to members of media at the recent celebration of the 40 years of Barangay Ginebra in the PBA.

The Kings won last year’s title by beating the San Miguel Beermen in six games in their best-of-seven finals series.

Mr. Brownlee was a replacement import last season, taking the place of Charles Garcia in the elimination round and the team just picked things up from there all the way to the title.

After their victory though, the Kings struggled to advance past the semifinals and quarterfinals, respectively, in each of the next two conferences, something Mr. Brownlee said only adds further fuel for them to do better this time around.

“We are ready to defend the title and bounce back after the loss last conference and the Governor’s Cup before that,” said Mr. Brownlee, who has helped the Kings to three PBA titles in the last eight conferences.

The Barangay Ginebra import went on to say that they will be facing a tough field, boasting of a solid mix of teams which have brought in quality imports to help their causes, and that they have to be ready.

“I have seen some of the imports and, man, they are good. It’s going to be tough this conference. I’m the shortest of the imports but with help from Japeth (Aguilar), Joe (Devance) and Greg (Slaughter) I believe we can make manage. I have faith in my team,” he said.

Now on his sixth time playing for the Kings, Mr. Brownlee said his commitment with them has only gone stronger.

“It feels great. I mean to be wanted by a great organization like them is definitely a blessing and it’s an honor to be part of the team. It’s very special for me,” he said.

Mr. Brownlee and the rest of the Kings will make their 2019 tournament debut on Friday, May 24, against the Blackwater Elite.