POC expects Justin Brownlee to lead PH team’s redemption bid in Cambodia SEA Games
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) expects Barangay Ginebra import Justin Brownlee to lead the men’s national basketball team in reclaiming the Southeast Asian Games gold in Cambodia from May 5 to 17.
POC president Bambol Tolentino said the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas will be sending a strong roster in the 32nd edition of the biennial meet, possibly bannered by Brownlee, who is likely to be naturalized and a Philippine passport holder when that time comes.
“Kausap ko naman ang basketball. Babawiin natin ang 5-on-5 at 3×3. Mabibigat na ‘yung ilalaban doon. Sila Brownlee na ‘yun. Another good news for us sa Cambodia,” said Tolentino in the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday.
(I talked to SBP. We will redeem ourselves in 5-on-5 and 3×3. They will send strong teams with Brownlee. Another good news for us for Cambodia.)
The 34-year-old Brownlee’s naturalization only needs the signature of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. with the final reading of the proposed bill already approved by the Senate last December.
SBP is looking to reinforce Gilas Pilipinas with the 6-foot-6 Gin Kings’ import when it hosts Lebanon on February 24 and Jordan on February 27 in the final qualifying window for the Fiba World Cup 2023 both held at Philippine Arena.
Tolentino said Brownlee will boost Gilas’ bid to regain the SEA Games gold even if the other competing countries would play with naturalized players, too.
“Sila kasi ang bilis mag-naturalize eh. Thailand, Indonesia. Baka surpresahin na naman tayo sa Cambodia, baka sino-sinong ex-NBA ang andoon,” he said.
(Thailand and Indonesia can easily naturalize players. We might be surprised in Cambodia with another ex-NBA player.)
Gilas failed to capture its 14th straight SEA Games after a shocking 81-85 loss to Indonesia, led by ex-NBA cager Marques Bolden, in Hanoi last May. The Philippine team settled for silver for the first time since 1989.
Tolentino is confident that Brownlee won’t have eligibility problems in the Cambodia Games as he is expected to be naturalized and obtain a passport even months before the regional meet.
“Pasok na sa SEA Games ‘yun. Pinakamabalis na ‘yung pag-naturalize kay Brownlee, ‘di ba. Naturalized na. Sigurado [sinabi ng SBP na] magagamit nila si Brownlee. Kung naturalization lang, pasok na siya. Kung passport lang, mas madali ‘yun. Baka naman processed na ‘yung passport niya after naturalization,” Tolentino said.