JUSTIN BROWNLEE takes his turn to anchor the men’s national team in the Hangzhou Asian Games and, man, he’s all fired up.
“Let’s give Philippine basketball a great showing, keep ourselves prepared and play hard in the Asian Games,” Brownlee said Wednesday. “I’m excited for the team, excited for the country and the fans as well.”
Brownlee will be Gilas Pilipinas’s naturalized player in Hangzhou alongside Ange Kouame—the Asian Games only consider athletes’ passports for their eligibility to play for a particular country.
The resident import of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel underwent an ankle surgery but showed up in his usual explosive court demeanor during Gilas’s third straight day of practice at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City Wednesday.
The 35-year-old six-time champion import of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) was second option to Utah Jazz star Jordan Clarkson in the recent FIBA World Cup.
Brownlee said he expects an improvement from the country’s fifth place finish in 2018 in Jakarta, where Clarkson debuted in a Gilas uniform.
“The biggest aim is to win the gold medal. We’re trying to work on that,” he said.
With Brownlee in head coach Tim Cone’s team are Calvin Abueva, Calvin Oftana, Roger Pogoy, Scottie Thompson, Terrence Romeo, Jason Perkins, Mo Tautuaa, Japeth Aguilar, June Mar Fajardo and Chris Newsome.
Basketball fans, meanwhile, are in for a double treat when the Asian Games-bound men’s and women’s national teams open the gates of their training facility to the public on Thursday.
The joint practice at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City starts at 4 p.m.
“No tickets are necessary,” Cone said. “We just want the public to come and observe.”
Cone said Gilas men’s and the women’s team coached by Pat Aquino, “will share the court and have interactions between them.”
Gilas has been training religiously since Tuesday in the Pasig City facility from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The nationals will then move to the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba on Saturday, before wrapping up their preparation with a tune-up game against the Changwon LG Sakers of South Korea on September 22.
The team leaves for Hangzhou on September 23.
The Gilas Women, meanwhile, are coming off a remarkable performance in the FIBA Women’s Asia Cup in Sydney.