Fri. Jun 2nd, 2023

Justin Brownlee is ready for the Finals.  —PHOTOS BY AUGUST DELA CRUZ

Justin Brownlee is ready for the Finals. —PHOTOS BY AUGUST DELA CRUZ

Justin Brownlee now stands on the doorstep of Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) immortality.

With six championships to show for, the beloved Barangay Ginebra forward could etch his name deeper into the granite of the league’s lore by winning one more title, one that would anoint him as the winningest import in the league’s rich history.

And as he tries to eclipse that mark in the looming best-of-seven championship series against TNT, Brownlee couldn’t help but ponder about how long the journey has been.

“From 2016, who would’ve thought that it would all come to this?” he said while shaking his head with a smile during a chat with the Inquirer on Monday. “I thought, maybe, after my first PBA Championship that I’d win maybe one or two more.

He later stressed: “Maybe.”

Brownlee said his optimism was generally blunted by how the league grew formidable with his every passing stint.


Justin Brownlee Tim Cone Barangay Ginebra

FILE – Ginebra import Justin Brownlee and his head coach Tim Cone hug after the Gin Kings clinched the 2016 PBA Governors’ Cup championship on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, at Araneta Coliseum. Tristan Tamayo/

“It’s not an easy league for an import to come in here, play well and lead a team to a championship,” he said. “Leading a team to win is entirely different.”

“And I’ve seen a lot of great imports come here and not be that great. But like I’ve said, I’m just hurt to [have such] an opportunity. Blessed to be apart of a team like Ginebra. Coach Tim [Cone] has been bringing me back since 2016 and I’m just honored to be a part of that.”

One more title would push Brownlee ahead of Sean Chambers, another import who played for Cone during Alaska’s reign throughout the ’90s. He has already surpassed other iconic imports like Bobby Ray Parks, Jr., whose name is forever engraved on the Best Import trophy, Norman Black and Billy Ray Bates.


Brownlee said he is ready to claim the all-time lead when Ginebra battles TNT in Game 1 of the Governors’ Cup Finals set this Easter Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

And he is making sure that he will be prepared come game time.

“Most of the time it’s not just one thing. But in this particular conference, it was just keeping on improving on getting my body in the best shape I can,” he said. “As you get older, you focus on keeping your body in the best shape possible. You can’t defeat Father Time, but you can slow him down a bit. And that’s the biggest thing I’m trying to grow.”

“Eat the healthiest I can eat and work out the best way I can while being smart about it,” the 34-year-old Brownlee added.

And with an approach that puts a premium on staying power, Brownlee—maybe, just maybe—could be winning more down the line.


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