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MANILA, Philippines – Barangay Ginebra head coach Tim Cone can only hope for the best as import Justin Brownlee suffered from food poisoning in the thick of their PBA Governors’ Cup finals battle against TNT.
The incident could not have come at a worse time for the Gin Kings, who now trail 2-3 in the best-of-seven series after a 104-95 loss to the Tropang Giga where they played without Brownlee for most of the second half.
“He had severe food poisoning. He tried to go through the first half. He did a pretty good job, but by halftime, he was out,” said Cone.
“You could see it when we started the second half. He was throwing up at halftime, he was throwing up on the bench, so we took him out.”
Brownlee looked like his usual self as he delivered all of his 14 points and 4 rebounds in the first two quarters to help Ginebra mount a 61-49 lead at halftime.
The three-time Best Import opened the second half for the Gin Kings and played the first five minutes of the third quarter before Cone subbed him out.
In visible discomfort, Brownlee was later escorted out of the court and rushed to the hospital.
Looking back, Cone said the team should have had Brownlee – who was already feeling under the weather at noon – checked up earlier in the day.
“He wanted to come and try so he tried but it was not enough,” said Cone.
After being down by as many as 9 points in the final frame, Ginebra stormed back and got within 93-94 off 8 straight Nards Pinto points only to witness TNT seal the win with a 10-2 run spearheaded by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
Hollis-Jefferson dominated the import battle, submitting his third triple-double of the conference after recording 32 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists.
“Bottomline is we made some turnovers down the stretch. We could not rebound without Justin there and that was the story of the game. We got to be better with more poise down the stretch,” Cone said.
As the Gin Kings try to force a winner-take-all match, they bank on Brownlee to make it back in time for the pivotal Game 6 on Friday, April 21, at the Araneta Coliseum.
Brownlee has not lost a finals series in the PBA, leading Ginebra to six championships.
“Hopefully, Justin will be better after being in the hospital. We’ll see,” Cone said. – Rappler.com