FIBA World Cup

Brownlee stellar in debut as Gilas Pilipinas drubs Lebanon in home rout

Delfin Dioquino

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Brownlee stellar in debut as Gilas Pilipinas drubs Lebanon in home rout

DEBUT. Justin Brownlee plays his first game for Gilas Pilipinas.


Justin Brownlee sparks a blistering three-point display as Gilas Pilipinas exacts revenge against Lebanon for its fourth straight win in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers

BULACAN, Philippines – Justin Brownlee did not disappoint in his keenly awaited Gilas Pilipinas debut and fueled a 107-96 win over Lebanon in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers at the Philippine Arena on Friday, February 24.

Playing his first game as a naturalized player, Brownlee churned out 17 points and 5 assists as the Philippines made up for its lack in size with a blistering shooting display in its redemption victory against the Cedars.

The resident Barangay Ginebra import canned back-to-back treys in the opening quarter to ignite a three-point barrage that saw the Filipinos sink seven of their first 10 attempts from beyond the arc.

Ray Parks then caught fire and buried a pair of triples in the second quarter, including the long bomb that propped up a 36-19 cushion as the Philippines coasted the rest of the way to avenge its 85-81 loss to Lebanon in Beirut.

“It was great. I love the atmosphere,” said Brownlee. “The fans came out and showed great energy. The team played together. Luckily, we got the win.”

Gilas Pilipinas shot 17-of-36 overall from long distance, with debuting forward Mason Amos also showing his impressive stroke from deep by knocking down a bunch of triples in the third quarter.

The youngest in the team at 18, Amos erupted for 11 of his 13 points in the third period alone as he shot a perfect 4-of-4 from the field, including a 3-of-3 clip from three-point land.

Jamie Malonzo backstopped Brownlee in scoring with 15 points on top of 5 rebounds, while Dwight Ramos finished with 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists as the Philippines notched its fourth straight win to improve to 6-3.

Back in national team duty for the first time in over a year, Jordan Heading picked up where he left off for the Filipinos with 10 points and Parks also chimed in 10 points.

June Mar Fajardo held the fort inside with 9 points and 5 rebounds as Gilas Pilipinas dominated despite the absences of top big men Kai Sotto, Japeth Aguilar, and Carl Tamayo.

“We had some missing pieces and maybe we were not as individually talented as the previous lineups,” said Philippines head coach Chot Reyes.

“I said in situations like these, the best way to address it is to come together and to lean on each other. I’m very glad the players took that to heart. Players were really playing for each other.”

Ace guard Roger Pogoy also sat out with an ankle injury, but the rest of Gilas Pilipinas’ backcourt contributed, with Kiefer Ravena, Scottie Thompson, and CJ Perez making their presence felt.

Ravena put up 8 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds, including the triple that gave the Filipinos their biggest lead of the game at 90-67 with 8:20 left.

Thompson tallied 5 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds, while Perez posted 8 points, 3 assists, and 2 steals as the Philippines netted its highest point total in the Asian Qualifiers on the back of 31 dimes.

Like Gilas Pilipinas, Lebanon played with a depleted roster devoid of its stars.

Wael Arakji, Ali Haidar, and naturalized player Jonathan Arledge did not see action as the Cedars saw their seven-game winning streak halted and fell to 7-2 in Group E.

Amir Saoud carried the scoring load for the Lebanese with 27 points, Hayk Gyokchyan added 21 points, and Sergio El Darwich fired 19 points.

The Scores

Philippines 107 – Brownlee 17, Malonzo 15, Amos 13, Heading 10, Parks 10, Ramos 10, Fajardo 9, Perez 8, K. Ravena 8, Thompson 5, T. Ravena 2, Oftana 0.

Lebanon 96 – Saoud 27, Gyokchyan 21, El Darwich 19, Zeinoun 14, Khoueiry 6, Mansour 6, Hadidian 3, Salibi 0, Khalil 0, Mezher 0, Rabay 0.

Quarters: 25-19, 53-41, 82-64, 107-96.


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Delfin Dioquino

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.