Will Brownlee fit in FIBA play?

Justin Brownlee (93) and the other members of the pool listen to Head Coach Chot Reyes during team training at the Meralco Gym.

WITH Justin Brownlee’s naturalization done and over with, the next major task is how to fit the prolific Barangay Ginebra San Miguel import into the national men’s basketball system and, more importantly, in international play.

“If there’s one important thing it is just to see how Justin Brownlee will play in the FIBA,” national team head coach Chot Reyes told BusinessMirror on Monday. ““We just have to see how Brownlee plays in international basketball. I think that’s what we have to see.”

Brownlee has already secured his Philippine passport and is now eligible to play as a naturalized player for the country in International Basketball Federation (FIBA) tournaments.

Brownlee has played professional basketball for some 15 years now, but never in a FIBA event. He was undrafted in 2011 but polished his game further in the National Basketball Association Developmental League until he joined the Lebanese and Italian leagues while not in an Ginebra uniform.

He also saw action in the Asean Basketball League, also a professional league, as well as in other invitational professional tournaments in Asia.

Despite his lack of FIBA action, Reyes stressed his trust on the 34-year-old and 6-foot-6 do-it-all Brownlee.

“We didn’t naturalize him if we don’t believe in him,” Reyes said.

Reyes has convened Gilas Pilipinas but only had two Mondays-only sessions so far at the Meralco Gym along Ortigas Avenue.

The team is preparing for the sixth window of the FIBA Asia Qualifiers for the 2023 World Cup with Gilas taking on Lebanon on February 24 and Jordan on February 27 both at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

Brownlee’s numbers of 28 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists principally helped steer Ginebra to last Commissioner’s Cup title. He is Gilas’s second naturalized player after 6-foot-10 Ange Kouame of Ateneo.

Reyes’s 24-member pool is alsl composed of college standouts Jerom Lastimosa of Adamson University, Mason Amos of Ateneo and Schonny Winston of De La Salle, Scottie Thompson, CJ Perez, Kiefer Ravena, Chris Newsome, Roger Pogoy, Jordan Heading, Ray Parks, Francis Lopez, Dwight Ramos, Thirdy Ravena, Jamie Malonzo, Calvin Oftana, Arvin Tolentino, Japeth Aguilar, Kevin Quiambao, Carl Tamayo, June Mar Fajardo, Kai Sotto and Raymond Almazan.

Reyes also said that about half of the 24 players joined the two sessions.

“All practices are light, we’re shooting at half court, and all of that, nothing to report at this time,” he said.

The Philippines is 5-3 won-lost in Group E of the qualifiers but is aleady qualified for one of the 32 slots in the World Cup as host.

Gilas is coming off an 85-81 loss to Lebanon last August 25 in Beirut but beat Jordan, 74-66, last November 10 in their previous qualifiers duels.

The FIBA World Cup is set August 25 to September 10.


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