Philippine basketball

After Brownlee success, Converge eyes to ‘exploit’ import conferences

Delfin Dioquino
After Brownlee success, Converge eyes to ‘exploit’ import conferences

NEW ROLE. Former PBA commissioner Chito Salud will serve as team governor of Converge.

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Converge governor Chito Salud looks to tap a top-tier import who can put the FiberXers on his back, much like Ginebra reinforcement Justin Brownlee

MANILA, Philippines – Converge intends to take a page out of the Barangay Ginebra book as the new PBA team aims to “exploit” the import conferences in its first couple of seasons in the league.

FiberXers governor Chito Salud used beloved Gin Kings reinforcement Justin Brownlee as example in their goal of bringing in a top-tier import who can put the squad on his back on the way to title contention.

“The import conference has been taken for granted by our teams. That was invented by the forefathers of the PBA precisely to give the middling teams a chance to win,” said Salud, the league commissioner from 2010 to 2015.

“Can you imagine if you have a Brownlee here, then that gives any team – I’m not talking about the Converge FiberXers – a chance to be champions.”

Brownlee has been a game changer for Ginebra as it ruled four import tournaments with the do-it-all American serving as their reinforcement.

The Gin Kings captured the 2016, 2017, and 2019 Governors’ Cup crowns and reigned in 2018 Commissioner’s Cup, where Brownlee clinched his lone Best Import award despite being the smallest in the field.

Brownlee will be gunning for his fifth PBA crown as Ginebra tangles with Meralco in the Governors’ Cup finals this season.

“Ginebra never became a champion during my five years [as commissioner]. In 15 conferences, one finals, they lost to Alaska,” Salud said, referring to the Gin Kings bowing to the Aces in the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup.

“But once they found Brownlee and they had the right composition and chemistry with their locals, how many championships did they win? Never take the import conferences for granted.”

Salud also mentioned Red Bull as one team which took advantage of the import conferences.

Red Bull joined the PBA in 2000 but immediately claimed its first championship a year later after ruling in the 2001 Commissioner’s Cup, beating San Miguel in six games.

Then in its title repeat in the 2002 Commissioner’s Cup, Red Bull employed three imports – Lang, Sean Lampley, and Julius Nwosu – in toppling Talk ‘N Text in seven matches.

Coached by Yeng Guiao, Red Bull won a total of three PBA titles, the other coming in the 2005-2006 Fiesta Conference – another import contest.

“Red Bull won all of their championships in the import conference and we want to exploit that,” Salud said.

“We want to be able to get an import that can carry our team in the meantime that we’re rebuilding and revitalizing it.” –

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.