Justin Brownlee’s return to Barangay Ginebra is inevitable, but the Gin Kings might need to consider bringing him back sooner rather than later.
Three games into the import-laden Commissioner’s Cup, Ginebra found themselves with the fourth worst record with one win and two losses. They suffered two straight defeats to start the conference, going down to both Talk ‘N Text and Rain or Shine.
Their only victory came against the struggling Blackwater Elite, who are still winless in the conference. And with only eight games left in the elimination round, time is ticking for Ginebra to turn things around.
Insert Brownlee to the scene.
Fresh from helping Alab Pilipinas win the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL), Brownlee is in peak condition and might just be the reinforcement Ginebra needs to mount a comeback.
The team is still adjusting from an early import change. Shane Edwards was initially set to stand in for Brownlee while the 30-year-old plays in the ABL, but following Greg Slaughter’s injury, Coach Tim Cone opted to get a big man and hire Charles Garcia.
Familiarity with Ginebra remains a concern for Garcia who is playing in the Philippines and in the PBA for the first time. Unfortunately, the league’s crowd darlings don’t have the luxury to be patient considering the perilous situation that they are in right now.
Brownlee has played for Ginebra in the past two years, and there’s no doubt he’s more than capable of helping the team immediately. After all, he has guided them to back-to-back Governor’s Cup championships, even banking the title-clinching shot in 2016.
Also, with Greg Slaughter back in action, it seems the right move for Ginebra to play Brownlee now. Sure, the Gin Kings need Garcia while Slaughter tries to shrug off the rust after some time out, but it would benefit them more to tap their former import to get things going.
Not to mention that the 6-foot-7 swingman is no longer new to this kind of situation. Alab Pilipinas opened the 2017 ABL season with a 0-3 start before Brownlee and Renaldo Balkman came to their rescue.
The dynamic duo brought a much-needed spark to Alab as they turned from strugglers to champions in the same year. Brownlee, for his part, averaged 21.9 points, 10.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists in 25 games for Alab.
Moreover, in the five-game series against Mono Vampire, Brownlee tallied 25.8 points, 11.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists while shooting above 50 percent from the field.
Two more defeats and Ginebra will likely have a hard time qualifying for the quarterfinals. Garcia has shown that he can contribute, but time is his and the Gin Kings’ biggest foe.
Brownlee is ready to go and don that red jersey once again, so why not let the man play — as initially planned?
In a message to FOX Sports Philippines, Cone said they are “not contemplating a change at this time.” However, if things don’t work out for Ginebra in their next game, the team’s top brass might want to pick up the phone and dial Brownlee’s number.