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MANILA, Philippines – Justin Brownlee took pride in representing the Philippines when Barangay Ginebra edged foreign team Bay Area for a PBA championship.
He will get a chance to do the same for Gilas Pilipinas in the sixth and final window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers in February after becoming a naturalized Filipino.
Fulfilling a dream that took years in the making, Brownlee pledged his oath of allegiance as a Filipino citizen at the Philippine Senate in Pasay on Monday, January 16.
“As a citizen, I will try my best to make the Filipino people proud. I want to keep making you guys proud and to do whatever I can to help the national team,” said Brownlee.
Brownlee delivered stellar numbers in the Commissioner’s Cup finals as the Gin Kings prevented the Dragons from becoming the first guest team to win a PBA title in over four decades.
In the best-of-seven series that went the distance, the three-time Best Import put up 32.1 points, 11.4 rebounds, 7 assists, 2.4 steals, and 2 blocks to capture his sixth championship with Ginebra over nine conferences with the team.
Overall, Brownlee is a perfect 6-of-6 in the finals.
“Representing Ginebra, of course, is a huge thing – it’s a big deal as far as basketball is concerned over here in the Philippines,” he said.
“But representing the country is an even bigger deal. That’s why in that series [against Bay Area], it felt like we were representing the whole country.”
The 34-year-old will don the national colors for the first time when Gilas Pilipinas hosts Lebanon and Jordan on February 24 and 27, respectively, at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan to wrap up the Asian Qualifiers.
“I feel great and I’m pretty excited to be representing the country,” he said.
Brownlee, though, still has to secure a certification of naturalization from the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation and acquire a Philippine passport from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
He is expected to obtain both documents in the coming days. – Rappler.com