Cone offers high praise for Brownlee, Chambers
MANILA, Philippines — Tim Cone has always coached great imports throughout his illustrious career be it with Alaska, Purefoods, and Barangay Ginebra. But of all the ones he’s handled, there are two who stand out the most.
The Ginebra head coach said of all the imports he’s coached, the two best are Sean Chambers and Justin Brownlee, who are not only prolific inside the court, but also charismatic off it.
In an interview with the Coaches Unfiltered podcast, Cone said that Chambers and Brownlee have undeniable talent, but what stuck to him the most was the two imports’ fun-loving personality.
“Justin’s like so comfortably fun to be around, Sean is like the life-of-the-party type guy,” said Cone. “But the approach they bring to the game, the unselfishness, the humility, and the seriousness in practice and the leadership of leading by example is too similar that they’re exactly on the same narrow path.”
“Justin is extremely quiet, he’s a giggler, he likes to laugh, and he likes to hangout with his teammates and he likes to laugh with them but he doesn’t lead conversations at all. On the other hand, Sean is like me, he’s a gabbler, he talks and he talks and he’s always creating jokes and laughing at his own jokes and people laugh with him.”
Chambers was one of Cone’s first imports when he started his career with Alaska back in 1989, and in two years the partnership led to the franchise’s first PBA title during the 1991 Third Conference.
Cone and Chambers also led Alaska to a rare Grand Slam in 1996.
Chambers, the Best Import in the 1996 Governors’ Cup, eventually became the PBA’s winningest reinforcement with six titles, including his last one during the 1997 Governors’ Cup.
Brownlee, meanwhile, came into the league in 2016 and just like Chambers before, was also a replacement import with Barangay Ginebra in the Governors’ Cup that year.
The Gin Kings’ amiable import eventually became a permanent fixture when he proved his worth and a certified fan-favorite when he drilled the title-clinching triple at the buzzer in Game 6 of the Governors’ Cup Finals, breaking the club’s eight-year championship curse.
Brownlee is now just two titles away from Chambers’ record and he was even named the Best Import in the 2018 Commissioner’s Cup.
Cone said that it’s not only a professional rapport that he’s built with both Chambers and Brownlee but also a strong relationship, which began with loyalty.
Chambers wasn’t a Cone recruit and it took him two years to deliver a title to Alaska, while Brownlee was a disaster in his first couple of games in the PBA, hitting complete blanks from deep at the start of his career in the Philippines.
Despite the pressure mounting on him, Cone decided to stick with his men and that might’ve been the greatest decisions he’s made in his career—a tenure that has seen him win a league-best 22 championships.
“I don’t care whether you’re losing as long as you feel like he’s coachable, he’s talented, he’s gonna make you better, then you stick with him. It’s like changing your team game to game, you can’t do that, you can’t have any continuity so the continuity we had with Sean taught me a lot in terms of that,” said Cone.
“Justin’s a great three-point shooter and then the first two games he was like 1-of-15, I’m looking like an idiot but we did know right away that we had something special especially with the way he practices and the way he dominated when we came to practice. He didn’t equate that in the games right away because he wasn’t in the shape he needed to be but once he got into shape, the story changed.”
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