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MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tim Cone did not mince words on the looming danger ahead for the national team despite holding a 2-0 record in the ongoing 19th Asian Games men’s basketball tournament.
Speaking to reporters in Hangzhou, China after an 87-72 rout over Thailand that featured a fourth-quarter scare for the Filipinos, Cone provided a grim update on Gilas’ top scorer and naturalized star Justin Brownlee, who labored to a 22-point outing on just 8-of-27 shooting.
“He was definitely hurting, his leg, his foot was bothering him. I’d say he was about 80 percent today, 85 percent at the most; there were times he was coming down the floor, he was limping,” Cone said.
“But he is such a trooper and he’s playing through it for only one reason: ‘cause he’s on the national team.
“If he’s not playing for the national team, he wouldn’t be playing. So give him credit.”
Brownlee, a resident import of the PBA’s Barangay Ginebra back in the Philippines, has had minor injury issues in recent years due to a combination of heavy workloads in deep playoff runs and national team practices and games.
As Cone said, however, the 35-year-old star is indeed a trooper, opting to sit out as few games as possible and routinely brushing off concerns on his physical status.
Moving forward, Cone is just looking to get the most of what Brownlee can muster for Gilas as the Philippines shoots for its first Asian Games podium finish in 25 years.
“We’re not here for pogi points (to impress). We’re not here to try and win by 50 and impress everybody,” he continued.
“No, we’re a team that came together quickly and our expectations are to win each game by one point. That’s it. If we win a game by one point, that’s all we care about.”
Gilas looks to formally clinch a quarterfinal spot with a pivotal match on Saturday, September 30, 5:30 pm against fellow undefeated nation Jordan led by a familiar face: former PBA import and NBA player Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. – Rappler.com