FIBA Asia Cup

Cone, Gilas staying patient as Brownlee shakes off rust from hiatus

Delfin Dioquino

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Cone, Gilas staying patient as Brownlee shakes off rust from hiatus

FAN FAVORITE. Justin Brownlee and Gilas Pilipinas wave to the crowd after winning over Hong Kong in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.


'He's the lifeblood of this team,' says Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tim Cone as Justin Brownlee returns to competitive action for the first time in four months

HONG KONG – Tim Cone and Gilas Pilipinas are in no rush to see Justin Brownlee regain his old, lethal form.

Brownlee, after all, just returned to competitive action for the first time in four months, helping Gilas Pilipinas coast to a 94-64 win over Hong Kong on Thursday, February 22, for a fine start in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers. 

The beloved naturalized player earned the go signal from FIBA to suit up for the Nationals again after failing a doping test in the Asian Games as he served a voluntary suspension that started from November and ended in February. 

“We’re obviously willing to be patient for him and we know how good he is, how good of a teammate he is,” said Cone, who also coaches the Barangay Ginebra import in the PBA.

“He’s the lifeblood of this team. We’re happy that he’s back.”

Despite being away from competitive basketball for one-third of a year, Brownlee still delivered, doing it all on both ends as he posted a staggering plus-minus of +38.

Brownlee finished with a team-high 16 points on top of 7 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals in 27:20 minutes of action – the most by any Filipino player as Cone allowed him to find his footing.

“He hasn’t played a game in four months so he had a lot of rust to brush off and that’s why we continued to play him in the fourth quarter,” said Cone.

“I turned to the bench and said, ‘We’re going to keep Justin in there so we can continue to get his rhythm.’ So it was great to see him in the second half really get his rhythm and be the Justin that we know.”

Brownlee is set for a homecoming game as the Filipinos host Chinese Taipei at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig on Sunday, February 25, and Cone expects him to in a deadlier shape.

“We think he’ll play better against Taiwan and as we go forward. He has that history, he has that pedigree already,” Cone said. –

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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.