After leading Barangay Ginebra to another title, Justin Brownlee would be the first to admit that he feels right at home here in the Philippines.
“I feel more like a Filipino the longer I stay here. I love it here,” Brownlee said.
That feeling shouldn’t come as a surprise given how warm the legions of Ginebra fans have welcomed Brownlee with open arms in the two years he’ve spent in the country.
So inculcated is the soft-spoken reinforcement that he already has his go-to food whenever he goes out.
“I love the chicken adobo here,” he said.
But it’s not just the food, as Brownlee said that what makes him love the country more is the people’s passion for the sport of basketball — the same reason why the former St. John’s standout found himself here, roughly 9,000 miles away from his hometown of Tifton, Georgia.
And even after all the celebrations he’s been in with Ginebra winning back-to-back Governors’ Cup titles, the 29-year-old couldn’t stay away from the game he loves.
He even follows UAAP games featuring the Adamson Soaring Falcons and his friend Papi Sarr, who, like Brownlee, is also handled by the same agent in Sheryl Reyes.
“I like the team and I like (Sarr) as a player. I think he’s an incredible rebounder and when he gets the ball around the basket, you might as well say it’s two points,” he said. “It’s a lot similar. The college atmosphere, for me, has a lot of excitement especially with the band playing and the fans they get really into it. They get emotional. It’s really exciting.”
Leaving the country on Tuesday, Brownlee couldn’t help but feel emotional as he leaves what he felt his second home once again.
But the 6-foot-7 forward is keeping his fingers crossed that the Gin Kings will give him a call to return to the Philippines anew next season.
“Hopefully, I could return pretty soon. I definitely would love to play the second and third conferences. I don’t think (Ginebra) has decided yet, but hopefully, I’ll be back, for sure,” he said. “I’m just trying to relax right now, reflect a little bit, and take it from there. But Ginebra will always be my priority.”
Inspired Parker delivers for FEU with his family in attendance