IT seems size hardly matters for Barangay Ginebra even though it is fielding the shortest import in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup in Justin Brownlee.
Gin Kings coach Tim Cone is sticking to the positives of tapping the services of the 6-foot-5 Brownlee for a midseason tournament that allows an import handicap of 6-10, believing his undersized player, while vulnerable to mismatches, can also pounce on mismatches.
“I think he’s going to really be a problem for the other teams,” Cone insisted after practice on Thursday. “His size might be a bonus rather than a detriment, at least that’s what we hope, because he can play like a big guy, but he still has all the versatility of a little guy.”
“So he’s going to be a tough matchup for teams,” the champion coach added ahead of their conference debut on Saturday against Phoenix in Davao.
Brownlee, though, played down his advantages against the taller imports as he expects plenty of help from the local frontline, led by Japeth Aguilar.
“It’s going to be a big challenge,” Brownlee admitted. “I’ve been looking at some of the games and everybody seems really tough to deal with, especially for me having to go up against bigger imports.”
“But basketball is a team sport and we can’t only focus on one player or just me,” the returning import added. “So I’m just looking forward to playing as a team, trying to stop and challenge imports, and I think we’ll do great.”
What makes Cone even more excited is they managed to have Brownlee for an entire offseason after coming in as a replacement for Paul Harris a game into the last Governors’ Cup.
“We didn’t have a training camp with Justin when he came in last time,” Cone said. “I wasn’t able to get him down and dirty, and make him understand all our fundamentals, the little things that we do.
“Plus, he’s in much better shape now than he was when he came in last time, so we’re really pleased with the way he’s developed,” he added of the St. John’s product, who turns 29 next month.
So it seems it won’t be a surprise to see Brownlee provide more after 28.6 points, 11.3 boards, 3.8 assists, 1.7 steals, and 0.9 block in 40.5 minutes in 22 games for the Gin Kings last time.
“He’s added some new things since I’ve been gone and it’s been good learning a few new things that he put in,” Brownlee said of Cone. “And the team’s working hard, and I think we’re going to be ready for Saturday.”