For as long as its inception, the Philippine Basketball Association has generously given non-Filipino players the opportunity to become stars as “imports” of the league’s member teams. The best of them tend to become centerpieces of powerhouse squads, at least in the PBA season conferences that allow import play (there is at least one conference that is strictly all-Filipino). During the Philippine Cup conferences, the team imports usually spend time playing in other leagues, returning as needed when the Commissioner’s and Governor’s Cups roll in. This is pretty much the deal for Justin Brownlee, one of the heroes for Barangay Ginebra’s 2019 Governor’s Cup victory.
As the 2020 PBA season prepares to kick off this March with the no-import Philippine Cup, Justin Brownlee is going to have time on his hands, time he could see spent playing basketball while looking forward to returning for the 2020 Commissioner’s Cup and beyond. To that end according to ABS-CBN News he is considering returning briefly to the San Miguel Alab Pilipinas, the representative team of the ASEAN Basketball League. But Brownlee does understand that he would need a good long break first, after the just-concluded PBA Governor’s Cup Finals against the Meralco Bolts.
During an interview this past Tuesday, January 21, Brownlee noted that after taking about a few weeks of rest following the end of the 2019 PBA season, he might again suit up for Alab Pilipinas if he sees an opening coming up. “I’m not sure, maybe the opportunity with Alab will be there,” the Ginebra import said. Brownlee however also remarked that he has very much enjoyed his time playing in the country and adds, “I wanna be here in the Philippines if I’m playing basketball. I love it here.”
Justin Brownlee was part of the Alab Pilipinas lineup that led the squad to its first (and so far, only) ASEAN Basketball League championship title in the 2017-18 season, beating Thai team Mono Vampire in a best-of-5 series that went the distance, 3-2. He had the honor of playing alongside Bobby Ray Parks and Renaldo Balkman. Should he find an opportunity to return during the import off-season of the PBA Philippine Cup, he would come in at a time when the Alab’s import roster is undergoing some dramatic changes. Balkman, Adrian Forbes and Khalif Wyatt have all since departed, to be replaced by Nick King, Sam Deguara and Prince William.
Image courtesy of Rappler