It's been over three months already since Justin Brownlee helped the Philippine ball club Alab Pilipinas win the 2018 ASEAN Basketball League championship. But for American import, that's the closest he's come to representing the Philippines.
Brownlee said he has fallen in love with the Philippines and wants to be naturalized and if possible, play for Gilas Pilipinas.
"I don't know how that [playing for Gilas] will work out but to be able to represent the Philippines when I was with Alab, it was incredible," said Brownlee on Monday during Barangay Ginebra's victory party at the San Miguel Corp. head office in Ortigas, Pasig.
Brownlee, a fan favorite since leading the Kings to the 2016 Governors' Cup, appreciates the love he receives from Filipino fans, teammates, and team officials.
"[Filipinos] are just helpful and kind, good-hearted people. I rarely, rarely have encountered a horrible or bad Filipino. Most Filipinos I've encountered with and made friends with are incredible people, kind-heart and always very helpful," he said.
Ginebra coach Tim Cone believes Brownlee could be a great fit playing for Gilas if given the chance.
"I've been saying that for over a year now that Justin will be a good fit because we have June Mar and we had the possibility of playing Greg Slaughter, so size isn't really a big issue. Brownlee's ability to make his teammates better and to score and defend -- I think he's playing much better than he is," Cone said.
San Miguel Corp. Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang agrees that Brownlee has been an asset to Ginebra.
"I've seen so many imports come into this country but I have never seen a guy like Justin Brownlee," Ang said. "I think we will all be very happy if he's going to be a Filipino. We will apply and we will sponsor him to be a Filipino citizen so he can play for the next 100 years."
The 30-year-old Brownlee will rest before returning to practice on August 22 as the Kings prepare to defend their Governors' Cup crown.
Ginebra has dominated the season-ending PBA conference the last two years, beating the Meralco Bolts each time in the finals. That included a triumphant Game 7 in the 2017 Governors Cup championship played before a new league record attendance of 54,086 fans at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.