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PBA: Justin’s a gem

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Brownlee validates Ginebra’s decision.

Justin Brownlee may have permanently validated his place as Barangay Ginebra San Miguel import in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup after putting up a sensational performance in Sunday’s win over the Star Hotshots at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Brownlee fired 30 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, outperforming his explosive Hotshots counterpart Tony Mitchell that gave Ginebra its second victory in three games in the midseason conference with a 113-98 triumph.

Ginebra opted to go with the 6-foot-5 Brownlee than tap an import that can pass the league’s maximum height limit of 6-foot-10 despite having shortage in the middle with 7-footer Greg Slaughter still out with a knee injury.

Coach Tim Cone had said before Ginebra’s debut that having Brownlee, the hero of the team’s Governors’ Cup title run last season, is more of an advantage rather than a disadvantage. So far, the multi-titled mentor’s vision has taken shape.

“Justin causes a lot of problems for people, he can play in and out, handle the ball make great passes. He’s a good defender and he’s playing the way we envisioned him to play when we brought him in,” Cone said.

Brownlee was active on both ends, even leading the fastbreak opponents from Star turnovers during Ginebra’s comeback from a double-digit deficit in the third.

He also got his offense going, making 21 in the last two quarters much to the frustration of Mitchell, who was dealing with foul trouble and taunts from Ginebra fans.

“Coach Tim had a really good game plan for him so I don’t think it was just me,” Brownlee said. “I think it was a group effort with coach Tim’s gameplan and the team, the way we played.”

LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson and Kevin Ferrer were also instrumental in the win that Brownlee believes could be the turning point to what has been an inconsistent first two games for Ginebra.

It also may have put an end to questions of Ginebra going small.

“I think this game definitely proved something to the league. I’m sure a lot of people questioned us about playing me as a small import against the bigger imports. But I think this game was definitely a statement for us and we’re definitely gonna use the momentum from it,” he said.

Ginebra won’t be seeing action until April 19 when it faces the NLEX Road Warriors at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.