Justin Brownlee did everything he could to show why he is more than just the money when talking about representing the Philippines in international tournaments through Gilas Pilipinas.
First, he keeps on coming back as Barangay Ginebra’s resident import even if his talents could really fetch him more lucrative pay in other places.
Second, he wears the Philippine flag proudly whenever he gets the opportunity to.
Proof of that was his declaration in the post-game interview after pouring 46 points to lead the Gin Kings to a 111-93 rout of the Bay Area Dragons. This was the Dragons’ first loss on Philippine soil after being 4-0 in the Commissioners’ Cup and 9-0 in pre-conference tune ups.
In reality, this is nothing but a regular PBA elimination game that is not a must-win. Him treating it as a Philippines versus a visitor and performing like his team has everything to loss so the home team will not be embarrassed in front of the home crowd displays his passion about the Philippines’ image in the basketball world.
“I was just representing for the league and the Philippines. They are a great guest team. We just try to represent our league and try to play hard,” he said.
Brownlee got a taste of this earlier when he donned the Alab Pilipinas jersey in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) where he, Renaldo Balkman, and Bobby Ray Parks lead the team to a championship.
He has been participating with National team practices even if he is yet to be naturalized.
Senetaors Francis Tolentino and Bong Go appears to be up to the naturalization process also.
Go, the Chairman of Committee on Sports, has been caught on camera watching PBA games live. His constant presence alone shows where heart is. He will not be there if the games are not interesting in the first place. Obviously, Brownlee with the national team makes their performance more interesting.
“We’re here to expedite [the naturalization process],” he was quoted saying in several reports.
Tolentino, on his part, is the one calling out for the application for naturalization of Brownlee, along with TNT reinforcement Cameron Oliver.
He noted there is no papers filed with the senate. Heck, he even checked with his counterpart in the congress, and found out the same thing.
“We’ve been hearing of Justin Brownlee, being naturalized… Lo and behold, us at the Justice Committee, we’re ready to conduct a hearing, but nothing has been filed,” Tolentino said to several reporters. “Not a single page of paper that would support, that would trigger the naturalization proceedings. I have here the checklist of requirements for naturalization, not even a letter of intent, not even a police clearance, barangay clearance. So how can we start?” he added.
It should be noted the next playing dates of Gilas are November 11 and 14. The papers need to be filed ASAP if hope of Brownlee is to participate in these games.
On the other hand, the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP) is looking like a lost soul that is confused on what to do.
There were a number of decisions the masses questioned but there are two things that standout for me: willingness to loss games and failing to improve the lineup.
Head Coach declared winning games during the FIBA windows is “not necessary” because the team is already qualified for the 2023 World Cup.
True but the effect is losing games tend to drop the team in the rankings and it did. Gilas skidded from 33 to 48, overtaken by Japan and Jordan in the Asia-Pacific.
The SBP sought the assistance of the Senate and the Congress in its bid to naturalize Brownlee and Oliver on September 12 and had been talking to the press about it.
So it is really frustrating to know that they have yet to ask Brownlee to submit his papers as of October 10.
We saw what happens when Jordan Clarkson and Kai Sotto are part of the team. They may not be the favorites but could give any team a run for their money.
The SBP should think real hard about the Brownlee case. He is not the ideal replacement when Andray Blatche was the naturalized player but should perfectly fit the bill if its Jordan Clarkson he is replacing.
In any case, adding him to Gilas is a definite gain for the team and the country.
By Armando M. Bolislis