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MANILA, Philippines – A months-long hiatus has Justin Brownlee itching to play for Gilas Pilipinas again.
Brownlee returns to national team action as he’s set to suit up in the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers later this February after being away from competitive basketball for a four-month period.
“I can’t wait to play basketball again and put all of this behind me,” said Brownlee. “It’s always been an honor to represent the Philippines and I’m happy to be given the chance again.”
A naturalized Filipino, Brownlee steered the country to its first Asian Games men’s basketball crown since 1962 in Hangzhou, China, last October.
But elation turned into distress when the International Testing Agency announced a week after the Asian Games that Brownlee failed a doping test as he tested positive for Carboxy-THC, a banned substance linked to cannabis use.
Even with the PBA season coming up and Barangay Ginebra hoping to acquire his services anew for its title-repeat bid in the Commissioner’s Cup, Brownlee opted to serve a provisional suspension that started on November 9.
That decision worked wonders for Brownlee, with FIBA retroactively counting the time he sat out as his proposed three-month period of ineligibility will end on February 8.
“Justin Brownlee is a big part of the team and the program moving forward and having him means we can hit the ground running,” said Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tim Cone.
“He’s already played with most of the guys so chemistry will already be there. He can now ramp up his conditioning and be ready to go once his suspension is lifted.”
Familiarity will not be an issue when Brownlee comes back as he reunites with Asian Games teammates June Mar Fajardo, Scottie Thompson, CJ Perez, Calvin Oftana, and Chris Newsome, who make up the 12-man core of Cone.
The Philippines will open the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers against Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei on February 22 and 25, respectively. – Rappler.com