STA. ROSA, Laguna – Justin Brownlee returned here in a big way as he lifted Barangay Ginebra to the venue he perhaps can still call home.
Brownlee led an 11-0 run by Ginebra and went on to finish with 31 points as the Kings defeated Meralco, 111-105, at the Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Complex.
It was Brownlee’s first game back here in the Laguna venue, one of the home courts of San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in the Asean Basketball League where the Ginebra import played before returning to the Kings.
In his last game here, Brownlee teamed up with Renaldo Balkman in leading Alab Pilipinas to the ABL crown when they defeated the Mono Vampire Basketball Club in the deciding game of the best-of-five series.
In Sunday’s match, Bronwlee shot 9 of 19 from the field although he missed all his seven threes. It didn’t matter as his shots from the other spots were enough for the Kings to secure the win.
Brownlee actually struggled to start off the game when he missed all his five shots from the field. He was 3 of 9 at the half.
“The only guy who has played here before in our team was Justin, our import, ironically. And also, ironically, he struggled the most especially in the first half,” said Cone, smiling as he looked back at the game. “We were hoping that he could carry us in the first half but he struggled also.”
Cone said Brownlee’s struggles early on was a testament to how difficult it was playing in a different venue outside the Smart-Araneta Coliseum or the Mall of Asia Arena.
“We didn’t get a chance to shoot here. I think it took as a while to figure the rim. We were 1-for-15 from the three-point line in the first half. We didn’t get a chance to practice here. We played the night before. We didn’t get a chance to come here early and shoot. There was no chance to get a feel for the rim,” said Cone.