JUSTIN Brownlee has probably found another import who can match his poise at crunch time.
The Ginebra import, best known for his dagger triple that ended the Gin Kings’ eight-year title drought in the Governors’ Cup last season, lauded Star counterpart Malcolm Hill for showing steely nerves in keeping the Hotshots alive in a matchup that Ginebra won in overtime, 105-101 on Sunday night.
Brownlee was particularly impressed with the 21-year-old Hill’s calmness when he knocked down the three free throws that sent the game into overtime after craftily drawing a foul on Japeth Aguilar from the beyond the arc with less than a second left in regulation.
“That shows a lot of heart and a lot of courage,” Brownlee said. “I was looking on the other side, we missed how many free throws. He showed great poise and great confidence to make those free throws and force overtime.”
The Gin Kings made just 12 of their 30 free-throw attempts, but still did enough to prevail behind Brownlee, who registered 33 points, 10 boards, five assists, two steals, and one block in over 47 minutes of play.
Still, Brownlee tipped his hat to Hill, who finished with 28 points, 12 boards, two steals, and one assist in 47 minutes.
“He's going to be a great player,” Brownlee said of the Illinois product. “He's already shown us great ability as a young player. First impressions, I think he's going to be a great player.”
Hurdling Hill and the Hotshots could be a good gauge for the Gin Kings in their title defense, but Brownlee is reminding his team to stay grounded.
“We don't wanna get too far ahead of ourselves but if we keep going the way we're going now, we'll put ourselves in a great position to make a run for it [back-to-back titles],” the do-it-all import said.