JUSTIN Brownlee embraced the moment and was rewarded for it.
The Ginebra import was proud to take matters into his own hands in their last play as the Gin Kings outlasted Meralco, 91-88, on Wednesday night to win their first PBA championship since 2008.
Off a timeout, Brownlee received the ball from the left side, drove to the right before launching from about a step beyond the arc over the outstretched arms of Meralco counterpart Allen Durham and hitting the shot that ended eight years of frustration for Ginebra.
“I was trying to draw up a play for me to get the basketball and, honestly, you know, I was just focusing on making the shot,” Brownlee admitted after emerging from the dugout.
“A lot of people, the fans, my teammates, my family depended on me to make that shot and before the play happened, I thought about the fans and everybody who supported Ginebra,” he added. “I’m just very blessed and happy it went in.”
Although he had never been in a closeout game in a title series until now, Brownlee has dreamt of taking a game-winner at the buzzer all his life.
“That’s the thing when you’re a kid, you know you have the ball in your hand and count down ‘five, four, three, two, one,’ and you shoot it,” Brownlee said. “I always dreamed and imagined it, but I couldn’t have imagined it the way it happened.”
“And I thank God for this opportunity and that shot going in,” he added.
Brownlee admitted he already had an inkling Ginebra would go all the way after the throwback performance of the “Fast and Furious” tandem of Jayjay Helterbrand and Mark Caguioa in their two-point Game Four win.
“It was a huge turning point for us because the series could’ve gone either way and I give those two a lot of credit for what they did in their game and I honestly feel that was the turning point,” Brownlee said.
“(I’m just proud after) all the hard work because not a lot of people see all the hard work in practice, after practice, before practice, how you’ll take care of your body ice it, hot tub, all that hard work came out,” he added.