MANILA, Philippines – Much has been said about the brilliance of Justin Brownlee.
In his 7 tours of duty for Barangay Ginebra in the PBA, Browlee led the storied franchise to 4 titles, the last coming in the 2019-2020 Governors' Cup.
He has played in the league for so long that teams would have probably figured out how to contain him, but Tim Cone said what makes Brownlee special is his ability to always raise his game to another level.
"[T]he thing about Justin that impressed me is that while he's been here, his game has improved so tremendously," Cone said.
"From when he first came in terms of just being a normal stretch four, now he handles the ball, he plays midrange, he gets to the basket, he posts up."
"I was talking to my son who lives in San Francisco and we were talking about how great Justin is and how hard it is to defend him and how happy I am that he's on my team," Cone added.
There were little expectations when the Gin Kings tapped Brownlee to replace Paul Harris in the 2016 Governors' Cup.
But Brownlee turned out to be the perfect fit for Ginebra as he helped the team win the crown in that conference, doing so in dramatic fashion with a game-winning triple in Game 6 against Meralco.
The Gin Kings brought him back for each of the next import conferences and Brownlee has not failed to live up to his billing since.
"Reminds me a lot actually of Bobby Parks. When I was trying to figure out ways to guard Bobby Parks, just could not find ways," Cone said, comparing Brownlee to the late seven-time Best Import.
"You would do all these different things, you know, guard him with different people, double him in different areas, press up on, or back up on him."
"No matter what you did, Bobby Parks found a way to do it, to figure a way through it. That's exactly what Justin does."
Being able to always improve has made Brownlee qualified to play in the NBA, Cone said.
"[O]ne thing my son said, he said, 'Sorry, dad, but you know, Justin's in the wrong league. He shouldn't be in the PBA. He should be in the NBA, playing as a star somewhere, if he had been given a chance,'" Cone said.
"He's an NBA-caliber guy. I don't think there's any doubt."
"I'm not going to tell Erik Spoelstra that because Eric might scout them and steal him. So keep quiet on them. You don't want anybody coming over from the NBA taking them away," Cone added in jest. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.