Justin Brownlee may have lost in the PBA Governors’ Cup Best Import race for the third straight time to Meralco’s Allen Durham but the well-loved Brgy. Ginebra reinforcement has four championship rings to show including three against the Bolts’ bull-strong import.
For the third time in the last four seasons, the Gin Kings tormented the Durham-powered squad in the championship round of the season-ending conference to sweep the ‘Finals Trilogy’ between the two teams.
The 31-year old Brownlee led the charge in the title-clinching Game 5 with 24 points, 7 rebounds, and 10 assists as the crowd darlings completed their ascent back to the top after being dethroned last season by Manila Clasico rival Magnolia.
“I gave him a hug and said, ‘I’m sorry you didn’t win the Best Import award.’ He turned to me and laughed and said, this is so much sweeter,” That’s just a representative of who he is,” said Brgy. Ginebra coach Tim Cone of his prized import.
With the Gin Kings winning their 4th title with him in tow, Cone admits that a lot if it is due to Brownlee’s continued improvement since breaking through the league in 2016.
“The thing about Justin that so impressed me is that since he has been here, his game has improved so tremendously from when he first came in terms of being a normal stretch four. Now he handles the ball, plays mid range, he gets to the basket, he posts up,” said Cone.
“He is an NBA-caliber guy. I don’t think there’s any doubt and I’m not going to tell Erik Spoelstra that because Erik might scout him and steal him. Keep quiet on that, don’t want anybody coming over from the NBA and taking him away,” he added.