No secret: Brownlee Gilas’ main weapon

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
No secret: Brownlee Gilas� main weapon
Justin Brownlee

MANILA, Philippines — China is out to protect its homecourt in the coming Asian Games and after losing to Gilas by 21 points at the recent FIBA World Cup, the marching order is to exact revenge if ever they cross paths. It’s possible that the Philippines and China will face off in either the semifinals or final, depending on how they progress in the course of the 16-team competition.

“Babawi (sila),” said Gilas coach Tim Cone. “They’re playing at home and out to get us. To win, we have to find a different way to beat them from the last time. We won’t have Jordan (Clarkson) but we have Justin (Brownlee). They won’t be ready for Justin. When we beat China (at the FIBA World Cup), I felt things finally came together. There was more communication, more fluidity at practice. Guys were locked in. If we had played that way earlier, things could’ve been different.”

Cone said Brownlee should be nearly 100 percent when Gilas plays its first game against Bahrain on Sept. 26. “Justin had arthroscopic surgery on his foot, removing bone spurs from three different spots,” he said. “Recovery is about four to eight weeks, depending on his (body) reaction. He’s about 4 1/2 weeks from surgery. In our third practice last Wednesday, he was with us 75 percent then the trainers pulled him out as he experienced some soreness and we didn’t want to push him. He’s not yet 100 percent but with more time doing rehab, working out, by Sept. 26, he should be nearly if not 100 percent, maybe 92, 95 or 98 percent. Justin’s a gamer, you don’t see him miss games or practice, he’s willing to play through aches, pains and hurt. It’s why he’s been so successful for so long.”

The Philippines is in Group C with Bahrain, Thailand and Jordan. After a single round-robin, the first placer advances to the quarterfinals while No. 2 and No. 3 play No. 3 and No. 2 from Group D in knockout games. “We’re in a tough bracket,” said Cone. “If we look past Bahrain and Thailand to just focus on Jordan, it’s a problem. Bahrain dominated the qualifiers for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament. They’ve got good size, athleticism and small guys who shoot the lights out. Thailand has more and more Thai-Ams coming from the US and they’re a team to reckon with. Jordan has Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and in the PBA, we had our issues with him. He’ll match up with Justin again. (Assistant coaches) Jong (Uichico) and Josh (Reyes) know Jordan well, they scouted them for a FIBA window. We’ll rely on their scouting of tendencies to put together a game plan and strong defense. At practice, the energy is phenomenal, so is the attitude. Everyone’s working hard and we expect to get better. We’re not good now but in another week or 10 days, we’ll be where we want to be.”

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