Brownlee gets Cone thumbs up for potential Gilas stint

MANILA, Philippines – Tim Cone backed the idea of Justin Brownlee donning the national colors as a naturalized player for Gilas Pilipinas, saying the beloved import can "change a team." 

Cone was left in awe of Brownlee after he submitted a near triple-double in leading Barangay Ginebra to its first win in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup with a 110-95  drubbing of Meralco on Sunday, May 26.

Longtime naturalized player Andray Blatche is set to reinforce the Philippine team in the FIBA World Cup for the second straight time, but Cone is putting Brownlee's name in the hat nevertheless. 

"Isn't Justin amazing? I tell you. I know that Andray is a great player and I know all those guys, I really don't have any say in that. But I tell you, my vote goes for Justin for the national team," Cone told reporters. 

"He can change a team, not just by his play, but by his personality. He's an amazing player and human being. He really is. But that's not my call." 

Since Brownlee led the Gin Kings to 3 PBA championships and snagged a Best Import of the Conference award, the clamor for him to be the Philippines' next naturalized player has grown.

In fact, there is already a House bill filed pushing for Brownlee to become a naturalized Filipino. (READ: Brownlee's naturalization in the works with filing of House bill)

Previously expressing his desire to represent the Philippines, Brownlee has remained hopeful of the possibility. 

"That's definitely been a dream of mine since I've been here in the Philippines now and connecting to the Philippine culture and the people, it's been unbelievable," he said. 

Brownlee, though, bared he has little idea on the process of his naturalization, especially after the death of his agent Sheryl Reyes

"Hopefully the process is still going forward and it's not standing still or going backwards. I'm still excited for it. I'm just being patient and whatever happens, happens," Brownlee said.

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.