Brownlee shakes off rust in winning return for Gilas vs Hong Kong

Ralph Edwin Villanueva - Philstar.com
Brownlee shakes off rust in winning return for Gilas vs Hong Kong
Justin Brownlee (32)

MANILA, Philippines -- Missing about four months of basketball, Gilas Pilipinas naturalized player Justin Brownlee had “a lot of rust to brush off” against Hong Kong, head coach Tim Cone said.

Brownlee missed some time after being flagged by the International Testing Agency (ITA) last year for carboxy-THC.

This after the beloved naturalized forward led the Philippines to its first Asian Games championship in 61 years.

In his return to basketball, however, Brownlee had a big performance, leading all scorers with 16 points, hauling down seven rebounds and dishing out seven assists.

“[Brownlee] really struggled at the beginning of the game, you can tell he had a little bit of rust. He hasn’t played a game in like four months so he had a lot of rust to brush off,” Cone told reporters after the Philippines’ 94-64 win over Hong Kong Thursday.

“That’s why we continued to play him in the fourth quarter. I turned to the bench and said we’re gonna keep Justin in there so he can continue to get his rhythm. So it was great seeing him in the second half really get his rhythm and be the Justin that we know,” he added.

Despite the Philippines holding a huge lead in the fourth quarter, Brownlee continued to play.

A Brownlee layup with exactly a minute left in the game set the final score.

“We were obviously very willing to be patient for him and we know how good he is and we know what a great teammate he is and so he’s the lifeblood of this team,” Cone said.

As he was able to shake the rust off, the coach voiced belief that Brownlee would be able to have a more dominant game against Chinese Taipei, which Gilas will face on Sunday in the second game of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers’ first window.

“We’re happy that he’s back and we think he’ll play better against Taiwan and as we go forward. He has that history, that pedigree already.”

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