Naturalized Filipino Justin Brownlee and Gilas Pilipinas Men’s team debutante Mason Amos displayed fine form in their very first game for the Philippine national basketball team and both were instrumental in the squad’s 107-96 victory over Lebanon in the 6th and final window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers Friday night at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue Bulacan.
Brownlee, the 34-year old resident import of Brgy. Ginebra San Miguel in the PBA, paced Gilas with 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc in 29 minutes of play. The 3-time Best Import awardee also finished with 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals.
“It was great. I love the atmosphere,” said Brownlee during the post-game press conference. “The fans came out and showed great energy. The team played together. Luckily, we got the win.”
Gilas shot 17-of-36 overall from the 3-point area which tied the most ever in the tournament. Rookie Amos led the attack from afar with a perfect 3-of-3 sniping. The 18-year old big man tallied 13 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting to go with 2 boards in just 8 minutes of action.
The Philippines improved to 6-3 to remain in 3rd place while Lebanon fell to 7-2 which is good for a tie for top spot with New Zealand in Group E.
“We had some missing pieces and maybe we were not as individually talented as the previous lineups,” said Gilas head coach Chot Reyes.
“I said in situations like these, the best way to address it is to come together and to lean on each other. I’m very glad the players took that to heart. Players were really playing for each other,” he added.
Brownlee’s Brgy. Ginebra teammate Jamie Malonzo also had a significant performance as the high-flying Fil-Am came through with 15 points highlighted by a couple of dunks and three triples in addition to 5 boards, 3 assists, 1 steal and 2 rejections.