Justine Brownlee raises the standard for PBA imports

Aug 09, 2018

Justin Brownlee may have cemented his status as one of the best imports to ever play in the PBA after leading Barangay Ginebra San Miguel's to the Commissioner's Cup crown at the expense of San Miguel.

Ginebra's 4-2 series victory made Brownlee the ninth import to win a PBA title at least three times, a feat the former St. John's University player didn't expect when he arrived in the early part of the 2016 Governors' Cup as a replacement for the injured Paul Harris.

"It's a blessing to be able to just compete in the Finals, to be able to just compete in this league," Brownlee said after averaging 31.5 points on 69-percent shooting with 10.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists in the championship series.

Brownlee's latest title may have been the sweetest. He lost his first two games since replacing Charles Garcia and dropped Ginebra's record to 1-5 halfway trough the eliminations.

But Brownlee and the Kings were able to get their acts together in time by winning the final five games to secure the No. 5 seed in the eliminations.

In the quarters, Ginebra swept Meralco in a best-of-three series, edged top seed Rain or Shine, 3-1, in the semis before breaking San Miguel's myth of invincibility in the finals.

"Everybody was staying positive, everybody was still working hard and everybody still sustained their confidence even though we were 1-5," he said.

"I can just remember going to practice and the confidence of the team, it felt like we were 5-0. I feel that's the big thing we had this conference, everybody just stayed positive and just kept working hard even though we were down."

Sean Chambers, Bobby Parks, Norman Black, Billy Ray Bates, Andy Fields, Cyrus Mann, Byron "Snake" Jones and Bruce "Sky" King are the other imports to win at least three PBA titles, putting Brownlee in an elite company.

Brownlee is also the only Ginebra import to have the same numbers of championships, something even other beloved imports like Bates, Michael Hackett, Chris King and Chris Alexander, to name a few, failed to accomplish while wearing the red and white uniforms of the league's most popular team.

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That has prompted some to consider Brownlee as the greatest import in team history.

"I definitely love the compliment. You know, I don't like to think of myself like that. I just want to keep doing good and just keep working hard. Whatever comes with that, you know I'll take it," said Brownlee.(JT)