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MANILA, Philippines – The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) said it expects FIBA’s decision on the availability of naturalized swingman Justin Brownlee to be released this week.
“We were told that it would come in anytime this week. So we’re hoping that he gets the lowest level of suspension which is a three-month period,” new SBP executive director Erika Dy told reporters on Tuesday, January 30.
“That three month period will end on February 8. So that’s just in time for this window, that’s what we’re hoping for,” she added.
Brownlee, who has been out of the public eye since then, may see his long layoff from basketball as retroactive through the voluntary suspension provision.
The beloved Ginebra import was found to have tested positive for a banned substance, Carboxy-THC, right after Gilas Pilipinas’ historic Asian Games gold medal win in October 2023, the International Testing Agency announced.
The Philippine Olympic Committee said the substance may have been found on Brownlee’s medication after recovering from foot surgery in June 2023.
Nevertheless, Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tim Cone said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association awards night on Monday, January 29, that he is “confident” Brownlee would be able to play soon.
Cone, who was named permanent head coach, included his import in the 12-man pool as the national team ramps up its preparations for the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in February.
“We’re confident that Justin will be there. It’s not a lock but we’re confident that he’ll be there. And if necessary, we’ll adjust,” said Cone.
“I mean, we’re not going to make a pool. We will go in a little shorthanded. I’m not the kind of coach who plays 12 guys anyway,” he added.
Gilas will head to Hong Kong and face them on February 22 and defend home court against Chinese Taipei on February 25 at the PhilSports Arena.
The 11 other pool members include Japan B. League standouts Kai Sotto, Dwight Ramos, Carl Tamayo, and AJ Edu, the latter likely to be out due to another knee injury.
UAAP MVP Kevin Quiambao is also included in the pool, as well as Ginebra forward Jamie Malonzo, June Mar Fajardo, Scottie Thompson, CJ Perez, Calvin Oftana, and Chris Newsome.
“[Cone] really doesn’t believe that he should prepare with injuries,” Dy said.
“It makes sense. We should believe that the 12-man lineup is intact and healthy. That’s what we have to look forward to. But as you’ve said, injuries do happen and we will deal with these injuries as we get there.” – Rappler.com