By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter
WHILE him playing as a naturalized player for the Philippine men’s national basketball team is still to be determined, Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings and Alab Pilipinas import Justin Brownlee nonetheless expressed his readiness anytime his number is called for national team duty.
One of the players being considered for Gilas Pilipinas for the remaining window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers next year along with Andray Blatche, Christian Standhardinger and Stanley Pringle, Mr. Brownlee, whose naturalized player papers are now being worked on, said he considers it as an honor to don the Philippine colors and vowed to give his all for the team.
“I would love to. If that opportunity comes, I would love to play — especially being able to represent the Philippines and play for a coach like Yeng Guiao, who’s an incredible coach here in the Philippines, and some of the players as well in the PBA. It will be fun to team up with some of the guys. If the opportunity comes, it will be great,” shared Mr. Brownlee while in attendance to watch defending champion Alab Pilipinas’ ASEAN Basketball League season debut on Sunday in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
Descended on the country in 2016, American Brownlee has become a three-time Philippine Basketball Association champion with the Kings and a one-time ABL champ while playing for Alab.
His all-around skills set has left many Filipino stakeholders impressed and batting for him to be part of Gilas Pilipinas as a naturalized player.
Mr. Brownlee, 30, said his papers is being worked on by those concerned and is looking forward to having them signed and completed.
“It’s just processing from all I know. I’m not sure exactly how it’s supposed to be but from what I heard, it’s getting close, but I’m not sure if it’s I’m already playing,” he said.
If ever he gets the nod to play for Gilas, Mr. Brownlee joins a team that would ask a lot from him as it tries to book its place in the World Cup in China in 2019.
The road to the World Cup became narrower for the Philippines after Gilas dropped its two matches in the fifth window of the qualifiers recently held in the country.
The Guiao-coached national team lost to Kazakhstan, 92-88, on Nov. 30 and then to Iran, 78-70, on Dec. 3.
The twin home stand defeats dropped the Philippines outside the top three in Group F with a 5-5 record.
As per tournament format, the top three teams in each of the two groupings advance to the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.
Australia is on top of Group F with a 9-1 record, and is already assured of a spot in the World Cup, followed by Iran (7-3) and Japan (6-4).
The Philippines are to play Kazakhstan and Qatar in away matches in the sixth window in February.