MANILA, Philippines – If Barangay Ginebra's Justin Brownlee truly wants to be a naturalized Filipino, he has San Miguel Corporation honcho Ramon Ang's full backing.
Ang said he will sponsor the do-it-all import's naturalization, during the Gin Kings' second victory party for their PBA Commissioner's Cup championship at the San Miguel head office in Mandaluyong City on Monday, August 13.
"We will apply and will sponsor him to be a Filipino citizen so he can play for the next 100 years," Ang quipped to the cheers and laughter of San Miguel employees and management.
"He's a very, very nice guy and in fact, I think we will all be very happy if he's going to be a Filipino."
The American reinforcement, after winning his third PBA championship in two years, had expressed his desire to become a Filipino. (READ: Justin Brownlee wants to be a naturalized Filipino)
It's not a surprise, though. After all, he has grown fond of the Filipino people – most especially the legion of Ginebra fans – and they have returned the love.
Plus, there's no reason for the Gin Kings faithful not to shower Brownlee with deep adoration.
Two months ago, Ginebra winning the championship was too absurd an idea when it carried a poor 1-3 record to start the conference.
Brownlee, coming off a title run with Alab Pilipinas in the ASEAN Basketball League, received the call-up to replace Charles Garcia and immediately saw action in his 4th conference in the PBA.
With him at the helm, the Gin Kings turned their fortunes around, reached the finals, and topped San Miguel in 6 games of the best-of-7 finals affair. He also took home his first Best Import award to cap off a Cinderella campaign.
That is something Ang will always remember.
"Without resting, he immediately came to join the team and the rest is history," Ang said.
"[I]'ve seen so many imports come into this country, but have never seen a guy like Justin Brownlee."
The San Miguel boss is so supportive of the naturalization idea that he is encouraging Filipinas to get to know the 30-year-old.
"Justin, you know, is single and looking to get married in Manila. So to all the single women here, send your resumé to his email or apply in person tonight," Ang joked.
Brownlee will go on a well-deserved break before the Gin Kings begin their title-retention campaign in the Governors' Cup, which begins on Friday, August 17. – Rappler.com
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.