HE is already one of the most popular imports in the country owing to his association with Barangay Ginebra, but Justin Brownlee was still surprised by the warm reception from Filipino fans during his stint with San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in the Asean Basketball League (ABL).
Brownlee said he was showered with love by thousands of Filipino fans not just in the provinces where Alab Pilipinas played most of its home games but also overseas where the OFW population around Southeast Asia gave the team a home feel during games.
“This just shows their passion. They love basketball,” Brownlee said.
The 6-5 import said he repaid the love not just by playing hard but also by putting his hand on his chest whenever the national anthem played before games, as seen during the finals series.
“I love it, man. The fans came out here and showed great support so I just go out there and try my hardest,” Brownlee said.
“The love they showed me here in the Philippines is nothing but amazing. Not even in my own country do I get this kind of love, so I respect and I love the Philippines like I’m a Filipino,” said Brownlee.
Brownlee was nothing short of spectacular for Alab after coming in as a replacement early in the season, capping his season with a near-triple double of 24 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists - not to mention a dunk over Mono’s 7-foot-5 import Samuel Deguara - in the title-clinching 102-92 win in Game 5.
Brownlee has now won three championships in the Philippines counting his first two with Barangay Ginebra in the PBA Governors’ Cup, but he's hungry for more.
“This feeling never gets old. I’m happy for the fan, my teammates, my coaches, the staff, and the bosses. This feels great,” said Brownlee.
Brownlee said he received a text message from Ginebra coach Tim Cone on the eve of Game Five wishing him luck. The next communication from Ginebra, he hopes, would be a call to action.
“He actually texted me and just wished me good luck," he said of Cone. "Definitely, I want to be back at Ginebra. We’ll see how it goes."