Gin Kings find their Jordan
Justin Brownlee has shown he can thrive in a conference where imports are way taller than him.
It surely won’t be stunning if Brownlee marshals Barangay Ginebra to another championship with a lesser degree of challenge.
“He’s (Brownlee) gonna have a huge target in his chest in the 6-5 conference,” said Ginebra coach Tim Cone after the Kings closed out the San Miguel Beermen in six games to rule the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday night.
With the best import of the just-concluded tournament suiting up for Ginebra one more time, the season-ending Governors’ Cup featuring imports 6-foot-5 and below could again be a coronation of sorts for the Kings.
“He’s the measuring stick of all the other imports at this point,” said Cone. “There’s a lot of very good imports coming in and every import will be out there to prove themselves against him.”
They will certainly have a difficult time matching up with Brownlee, who showed what he’s capable of doing opposite an import such as the 6-foot-8 Renaldo Balkman of the Beermen in a championship series.
Surrounded by complementary pieces who are just as efficient, Brownlee engineered the back-to-back titles of the Kings in the Governors’ Cup, both accomplished at the expense of the Meralco Bolts the past two seasons.
Greg Slaughter, who went toe-to-toe with four-time MVP June Mar Fajardo in the championship, will form an imposing frontline with the 6-foot-9 Japeth Aguilar, 6-foot-7 Joe DeVance and Brownlee.
PBA Press Corps Honda Philippines Finals MVP Scottie Thompson is expected to gain more confidence and will join the already formidable tandem of LA Tenorio and Sol Mercado at the backcourt.
“Justin is going to be the Michael Jordan in the next conference,” said Cone. “I think, in many ways, Justin had an easier time in the big (import) conference to score and do his thing because nobody can really match up to him. In the 6-5 conference, there are a lot of them that can match up with him.”
According to Cone, it’s now the job of the coaching staff to help Brownlee get those open shots as the Kings have to be creative in helping him out.
Barangay Ginebra added another Commissioner’s Cup trophy in its collection, the 11th league title of the Kings overall that netted Cone another milestone—21 championships with no sign of slowing down or retiring soon.
“If I could do this until 85, I’ll do this until 85,” said Cone. “Never go old and I’m ready for more.”
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