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MANILA, Philippines – The months-long ordeal is over for Justin Brownlee.
But that challenging period proved to be a test of character for Brownlee as he worried about his future after failing a doping test following Gilas Pilipinas’ historic title romp in the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China last October.
“Mentally, it was very tough just not knowing whatever the outcome may be of the situation that was going on. Very stressful for sure,” Brownlee told reporters on Friday, February 9, as he gears up for his national team return.
“A lot of days and nights, thinking about it, feeling sorry for myself.”
Brownlee tested positive for Carboxy-THC, a prohibited substance by the World Anti-Doping Agency that is linked to cannabis use.
Although Brownlee and the Nationals got to keep their gold medal, his positive test prevented him from suiting up for his mother team Barangay Ginebra in the PBA.
The 2023-2024 Commissioner’s Cup marked the first time the Gin Kings played without Brownlee in an import conference since he started his career with Ginebra in the 2016 Governors’ Cup.
Brownlee saw action in 10 straight import conferences and powered the Gin Kings to six championships.
Tapping former Meralco import Tony Bishop to fill in for Brownlee, Ginebra still reached the semifinals, but it succumbed at the hands of mighty San Miguel as it got swept in a best-of-five series for the first time since 2013.
“It was very difficult. At the beginning, I felt like I let my team down. Definitely, at the beginning, it was tough. But I give a lot of credit to Tony Bishop, he came in and he played his hardest,” said Brownlee.
Knowing he will miss time away from the PBA, Brownlee opted to serve a provisional suspension that started on November 9.
That decision worked wonders for the three-time PBA Best Import as FIBA retroactively counted the time he sat out for his proposed three-month period of ineligibility.
His suspension finally ended on Friday, just in time for Brownlee to join the national team for the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers later this February.
“At the end of the day… if you get knocked down or you get set back, you just got to try to stay positive and move forward,” said Brownlee.
Now that he is back, Brownlee is itching to suit up again, both for Gilas Pilipinas and the Gin Kings.
“Right now, I feel good. I feel rested. I feel healthy,” he said. – Rappler.com