HOW fast Justin Brownlee has adjusted to the country’s weather is set to be known when Barangay Ginebra continues a hectic PBA Governors’ Cup schedule against NLEX on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Gin Kings are in the middle of a tough stretch that has them playing three games in six days, starting last Sunday when they lost to Alaska, 109-100 in overtime.
Three days later, the league’s most popular team takes on a Road Warriors side bannered by prolific import Bill Walker, who has averaged 38.5 points in his first two games.
“We have a quick turnaround against a tough NLEX squad and their super import,” Ginebra coach Tim Cone said on the eve of the 7 p.m. encounter.
But the Gin Kings boast their own high-scoring import in Brownlee, who scored 31 points in just 29 minutes against the Aces despite being hampered by body cramps in his debut as replacement for Paul Harris.
“We’re hoping Justin adjusts to PBA conditions a little bit more and plays a cramp-free game,” Cone said. “Once we feel we get him adjusted, we’ll be on our way.”
San Miguel Beer and Mahindra dispute the solo lead as the teams that are unbeaten in their first two games face off in the curtain-raiser at 4:15 p.m.
The Gin Kings are sporting an even 1-1 win-loss record, but they could’ve kept their unbeaten start after overhauling an early 15-point deficit and taking the lead down the stretch against the Aces only to succumb to their opponents’ long-range barrage in the extra session.
“I’m disappointed for the fans that we didn’t pull our last game out, but I liked the way our guys competed all-game long despite our import’s physical problems,” Cone said. “We just ran out of gas in the overtime.”
The Road Warriors tote a similar record to the Gin Kings, but also could’ve been 2-0 had they held on to an early double-digit lead against San Miguel Beer last Friday.
“We gave away a game that we should’ve won,” NLEX stalwart Asi Taulava said. “Games like this, when you play the elite teams, you got to put them away when you’re up five. We got to be smarter and we got to find ways to get Henry the ball.”