Returning Brownlee delivers in front of home crowd as Gilas annihilates Chinese Taipei

Ralph Edwin Villanueva - Philstar.com
Returning Brownlee delivers in front of home crowd as Gilas annihilates Chinese Taipei
Justin Brownlee (32)
STAR / Russell Palma

MANILA, Philippines -- In his first game in the Philippines since he was suspended, Justin Brownlee showed up for Gilas Pilipinas.

The Asian Games hero had a massive game against Chinese Taipei in their FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers match Sunday, finishing with a game-high 26 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal.

He was instrumental to the Nationals' strong start, scoring 11 points in the first quarter that saw Gilas take a 26-13 lead.

Brownlee also had 10 in the third quarter that saw the Philippines break the game wide open to the roaring approval of the crowd at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.

After the game, Brownlee said he missed playing here in the country.

"I missed the fans more than anything. Just seeing smiles and being able to make them cheer and seeing their passion for the game," the 6-foot-7 forward told reporters.

"[The crowd] definitely came in with some energy and it made me want to be more aggressive," he added.

It was a thunderous crowd that filled up the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

The crowd loud that at times, the referee's whistle could not be heard.

"[I just wanted] to hear that crowd roar, just to put a smile on their faces or make them cheer and be happy," he added.

Brownlee was suspended from basketball last year after being flagged for doping by the International Testing Agency.

With this, the resident Barangay Ginebra import skipped the PBA Commissioner's Cup. His suspension was lifted just in time for the FIBA Asia Cup's first window of qualifiers.

Brownlee receiving offers to play overseas 

Gilas and Ginebra head coach Tim Cone said that Brownlee, for now, has been receiving some offers to play overseas, as the upcoming PBA conference is All-Filipino.

"He's had offers to go play overseas since it's All-Filipino and we're perfectly fine with that," Cone told reporters at a post-game press 

"If he goes and plays somewhere, and he goes and plays in Europe or in Japan or Korea or the Middle East [where] he played in before, he'll always be available for the window because he's a naturalized player. So, if he goes and plays and he's got a contract in June, July or August, he'll still be able to come back and join us for the window," the coach added.

Despite this, Cone underscored that Brownlee will "definitely be back" for Ginebra.

"So we're all for him going out and staying in shape, he'll definitely be back for us for Ginebra in the next conference after the All-Filipino... so we'll see him here," he underscored.

"But, in the meantime, he's looking around, he's looking at offers and he'll probably end up playing somewhere for a while."

Gilas will be playing in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament next in July.

The Philippines is in Group A along with Georgia and Latvia.

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