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Brownlee gets long-overdue award

Brownlee (PBA Images

Brownlee (PBA Images

Game Wednesday

(Mall of Asia Arena)

7 p.m. – Ginebra vs San Miguel

It may take a while for Justin Brownlee to appreciate winning his first-ever PBA Best Import award, a feat that many fans feel was long overdue after reinvigorating a Baran­gay Ginebra San Miguel from ridicule to consistent title contenders.

Brownlee edged his pal Renaldo Balkman in capturing the highest honor given to a foreign player after steering Ginebra from a 1-5 start to two wins shy of capturing the Commissioner’s Cup crown at presstime.

That is why Brownlee couldn’t savor the feeling of receiving the silver plaque until the conclusion of the best-of-seven Finals.

“It’s a great accomplishment,” Brownlee said after Ginebra’s 130-100 win in Game 4 Friday night. “It’s prestige this league is and great im­ports have played in this league.

“It’s a great accomplishment for myself, but I don’t wanna get caught up into that. Of course, it’s great, but the task at hand is try­ing to win the championship,” add­ed the 29-year-old product of St. John’s University.

Coach Tim Cone was elated to see the award handed to Brownlee, who became the smallest import to cap­ture the plum in the midseason con­ference at 6-foot-4 and 5/8 inches.

The Commissioner’s Cup allowed teams to tap imports with a maxi­mum height limit of 6-foot-10.

“It was well-deserved,” Cone said. “I mean, he absolutely turned this around. There’s no doubt about it. He was a small import playing with all the big boys and absolutely more than held his own.”

Brownlee entered Game 5 aver­aging 35.0 points on 78 percent shooting, having made 56 of 72 shots.

Being on the championship stage has been a familiar place for Brownlee, having won two titles in his three previous PBA stints while also helping Alab Pilipinas cap­ture the ASEAN Basketball League crown last May alongside Balkman. (Jonas Terrado)