MAKE that three-for-three for Justin Brownlee in a finals series.
The well-loved import continued his winning ways either playing in the PBA or suiting up as reinforcement of another Philippine club team in the Asean Basketball League as he led Alab Pilipinas to the championship.
Brownlee returned to the Philippines victorious and fans were loving him more for that.
Already embraced by local fans as the resident import they could always rely on, Brownlee was responsible in helping Barangay Ginebra to back-to-back championships in the PBA.
But what makes Brownlee successful playing alongside Filipino players?
“I think it’s his attitude,” Phoenix Fuel coach Louie Alas wrote in a text message to FOXSports.ph. “He’s coachable, he’s a good teammate and selfless. These are the qualities that made him successful.”
Every playing venue he went here, the chant of Ginebra-Ginebra-Ginebra had always become a familiar sound, proof how likable this import is everywhere he goes.
“I was talking to Kirk Collier (Ginebra trainer) and one of the things he told me is, he hardly finds a guy whom he doens;t have any problem dealing with. He couldn’t remember a player who is as likable as Justin Brownlee and maybe that’s the reason why everywhere he plays, he brings along that very positive attitude because he’s easy to get along with,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton.
Brownlee had just collected his third championship in his third finals trip in two different leagues. He’ll return to action in the next few months for the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings where he will try to win a third straight title.
Gin Kings coach Tim Cone looks forward on yet another possible successful journey with Brownleee in tow.
“Justin did lose with us when we were eliminated last year in the semis of the second conference (to Josh Smith and TNT), but he does have three championships in his belt,” wrote Cone in a text message. “As good as Justin’s skills are, it is his personality and character that separates him for most import.”
Cone could only look back at one of the all-time greatest imports to play in the PBA and draw comparison between him and Brownlee.
“Again, I compare him to Sean Chambers, who won seven PBA championships. Both Justin and Sean have that similar ability to inspire and lead their local teammates, and they come to the country ready to play for their teammates rather than expect their teammates to play for them,” added Cone.
Norman Black, whose team Meralco, fell prey to Brownlee and the Gin Kings for two consecutive years, couldn’t comment on the import’s personality.
“I really do not know Brownlee off the court, but what he has shown in the Philippines is his ability to blend well with the Filipino players, and the tendency to deliver big in crunch time,” added Black.
PBA legends return as champs
What do PBA legends Jimmy Alapag, Danny Seigle and Dondon Hontiveros have something in common?
Aside from the fact that these three players were former teammates in the national team, the three were able to return tpo the cage scene as champions.
Alapag retired as a player in 2015, but returned to the playing court and came close to winning a championship in the PBA Governors Cup in 2016.
No thanks to Brownlee, his current import, the Mighty Mouse fell short of his bid.
But in his coaching debut, Alapag picked up from where he left off when he was a player, winning a championship in just his first season.
“It’s incredible. I could only thank these guys enough. I’m sure you’re aware of the struggles we’ve been through in the opening stages of the season, but the guys stayed on committed and that has brought us here – to the championship,” said Alapag.
Seigle, on the other hand, won a championship in 2015 for the TNT Ka Tropa. He was waiting for an opportiunity to win another one, but spent most of his time at the far corner of the bench until he decided to hang his jersey for good.
As a member of the Alab Pilipinas, The Dynamite was able to savor the feeling of winning another championship.
Deprived of a championship in the PBA when he retired at the end of last season, Dondon Hontiveros returned to San Miguel’s fold and ended up as a champion.
It was a fitting way of either adding another chapter or ending the book of his storied career.
A 13-time PBA All-Star, Hontiveros won three PBA championships while playing for San Miguel and Alaska. Several times in the last three years of his playing career in Asia’s pioneering pro league, the Cebuano hotshot came close to winning another title only to fall short.
This time, there’s no stopping Hontiveros.
Image from ABL official website