PBA: A must-see, Cone says of Brownlee, who is close to passing legendary import
MANILA, Philippines–He did it, again. A sensational, do-it-all performance for an empathic victory for Barangay Ginebra on Wednesday night. Whether that leads the Gin Kings to another PBA Governors’ Cup Final remains to be seen, but Justin Brownlee’s performance more than reinforced the fact that he remains the indefatigable yardstick which many imports should measure themselves against in this era of the league.
The American forward finished with 47 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, three steals and three blocks in a 112-93 Game 4 victory over NLEX that sent the Gin Kings back to the championship series. But ever the unassuming fellow, Brownlee was in no mood to hog the spotlight.
“It felt good. I know I scored all those points but it feels better to win. I’m just happy we got the win and I’m happy I could contribute to that,” he told reporters.
To understand the breadth of Brownlee’s accomplishments on Ginebra is to quantify it with numbers. He has steered the crowd darlings to four of their last five PBA titles. Three of those came in the Governors’ Cup—a stranglehold that is one championship shy of matching the dynasties of Alaska and Purefoods.
Small wonder that Ginebra coach Tim Cone has compared Brownlee to one of the legendary names in the PBA.
“Justin is playing is the kind of thing that you’ll look back and, for me, I remember watching a game, going live and watching Billy Ray Bates play. As a young kid—and that’s still indelible in my mind—watching and being able to say ‘I was there with Billy Ray Bates,’” he said.
“This is what, 30, 40 years later. This is the time, you watch Justin Brownlee, you’ll be able to say, ‘Hey, I watched Justin Brownlee.’ Just like, I watched Billy Ray Bates,” he went on.
Cone’s comparison wasn’t something merely plucked from air. Brownlee has inched closer to leapfrogging Bates in the all-time import scoring ladder. Bates has amassed 4,523 points—5th overall among imports. As things stand, the Ginebra ace needs 158 more to pass the Crispa legend.
“So, take advantage of it while you can. Come and see him. He’s not going to be here forever, but you’re going to be able to tell your family, your friends, your cousins—everybody that you watched Justin Brownlee play. And that’s going to be a special thing,” Cone said.
Brownlee was sure appreciative of how far he’s come over at Ginebra, and how integral he has become for the franchise.
But he insists it was merely the product of keeping his nose on the grindstone.
“Man, it definitely feels good—the success—you know,” he told reporters. “But I credit that success to everyone who was involved. I know that it’s not just one player—it’s a group of guys who really come to practice, come to work everyday and just really put work in.”
“Just having that mentality of coming in and working hard,” he went on. “It feels good to be reaping the benefits for the work you put in.”