Philippine economy

Alapag hoping Brownlee ‘okay’ after continued Alab absences

JR Isaga
Alapag hoping Brownlee ‘okay’ after continued Alab absences
Justin Brownlee misses back-to-back games after being tapped to reinforce Alab Pilipinas

MANILA, Philippines – It has been two games since San Miguel Alab Pilipinas re-signed Justin Brownlee as a world import in the ASEAN Basketball League, and yet, there has been no sign of him anywhere near the team.

After multiple attempts to get him back to the Philippines in time for Alab’s home game against the Saigon Heat, communications fell through and the team was forced to play on without him on Sunday, February 23.

Although the Jimmy Alapag-coached squad did exceptionally well in defending home court with a 99-79 blowout of Vietnam’s Heat, Alab is still more than ready to welcome the fan favorite reinforcement with open arms.

“Unfortunately, he’s not here. I wish I had a more detailed answer. My biggest thing is we’ve kinda been off and on in terms of our contact with him,” Alapag said after the game.

“First and foremost, I just want to make sure that he’s okay back in the States. We really don’t know his status right now with the team.”

While the team is willing to wait a little bit longer, time is a luxury it is losing quickly as the ABL playoffs are getting nearer and nearer.

“My biggest concern is making sure he’s okay because we haven’t had much contact with him and hopefully, he gets his way to Manila soon because we’re very fortunate to get a great effort from the guys and to get the win,” Alapag said.

“But to play with only 8 healthy players and only two world imports, it’s not ideal in the ABL, especially as we get ready for the top teams.”

Right now, Alab does have some legroom for some errors as it is currently in 2nd place with a 10-6 record, but Alapag is hoping that Brownlee and the team get in touch and finalize things sooner rather than later.

“We’re all hopeful, but that’s pretty much what we can do right now,” he said. “And just try to continue to get better. That’s going to be the challenge for us going to the playoffs in April.”

“Those best-of-three series are dangerous, and if you’re going to the playoffs with the inconsistent type of game, you set yourself up in a bad situation.”

Alapag knows the perils of those kinds of series all too well after Alab got eliminated in the first round of the playoffs last year to the 7th seed Hong Kong Eastern.

Meanwhile, Alab also won it all the last time Brownlee suited up for the team in 2018, as a then-rookie Alapag coached the squad all the way to become the first ABL champions from the Philippines since 2012. –

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