By REYNALD MAGALLON
Justin Brownlee may have missed the chance at donning the Gilas Pilipinas jersey in the 2023 FIBA World Cup but he’ll surely have his time when he reinforces the Nationals in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China in September.
Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes made the announcement during the World Cup pep rally on Tuesday, July 25.
With Clarkson taking over the naturalized spot in the global showpiece which begins on Aug. 25, Brownlee was relegated as a reserve.
The Ginebra resident import has been part of Gilas buildup for the World Cup but willingly took a step back and gave way for Clarkson – something that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas has been very appreciative of, especially with Brownlee’s dedication and commitment during the training camp in the last five weeks.
His efforts, however, wouldn’t be put to waste with the Asiad also part of Gilas preparations considering the close gap in schedules between the two international competitions. The World Cup is ending on Sept. 10 while the Asian Games kicks off on Sept. 23.
With Brownlee in tow, Gilas is expected to still have a potent reinforcement for the Asiad especially Clarkson with also deemed unavailable during the tiff, owing to his commitment to the Utah Jazz, who by that time, is likely to be already setting up a training camp for the NBA season set to begin late October.
Brownlee made a good account of himself in the two games that he played for the national team, averaging 29 points, eight rebounds and four assists, including a 41-point explosion in Gilas’ 91-90 loss against Jordan in the sixth qualifying window.
He also suited up for Gilas during the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia where he helped the Nationals reclaim the lost gold medal in the men’s 5-on-5 basketball event.
He dropped 23 points in the finale against the import-stacked Cambodian team – just a day after exploding for 34 points when Gilas dethroned Indonesia in the semis.