Brgy. Ginebra import Justin Brownlee admitted that facing either Magnolia or San Miguel in a best-of-three quarterfinal series is not a good development as far as the defending champions are concerned.
The Gin Kings are locked in at 4th place while the Hotshots and the Beermen are tied for 5th spot with identical 5-5 records. There’s a 75% chance of a Manila Clasico quarters with the rest pointing to a titanic battle between the last two titlists of the Commissioner’s Cup.
“It’s not good news. You know, the quarterfinals, usually it may be a slightly lighter opponent, but at this point, it really doesn’t matter who we play. You know, it’s the playoffs. We gonna have to come out, and if we wanna win, we just need to come out and perform at the top of our game,” said Brownlee.
While the 31-year old, naturalization candidate is reluctant to take on any of the two teams this early into the playoffs, his performance the past two games should be enough assurance that there’s nothing much to worry about.
The 3-time PBA champion scattered a career-best 49 points to lead his team to a 102-91 rout over the Hotshots last July 7. He reset his career-high exactly one week after with a 50-point performance against the hard-fighting Columbian Dyip as the Gin Kings escaped with a 127-123 victory in overtime.
Brgy. Ginebra ended the elimination round on a 3-game winning streak to finish at 7-4.
“Didn’t seem like he scored that much. I didn’t feel like he was totally dominating the game tonight, not like against Magnolia where he was just the dominant guy out there,” said Brgy. Ginebra coach Tim Cone right after the game. “It’s really interesting because you don’t know how many points Justin is piling up. He does it in such a quiet way, without fanfare, he’s not pounding his chest or doing anything.”
“He’s just taking care of business, then you look at the stats after the game and you’ll go ‘Woah, he really did that.’ That was one of those games today. I had no idea he had that many points. But it wasn’t like he was forcing things. It was all coming natural,” added the league’s most decorated mentor.