DOWN by two with the game on the line – this is the type of situation where Barangay Ginebra misses Justin Brownlee the most.
The Gin Kings’ Governors’ Cup import lives for these moments, none more evident than when he took matters into his own hands and launched the iconic shot in Game Six of the Finals that ended the team’s long title drought last October.
And the Gin Kings certainly could’ve counted on Brownlee on Sunday night when they needed a clutch basket to complete a familiar fightback that just fell short as they lost to San Miguel Beer, 72-70, in their Philippine Cup matchup before nearly 11,000 fans at the Big Dome.
You know the Gin Kings miss their do-it-all import when you ask Scottie Thompson about their lack of consistency and he immediately mentions Brownlee out of the blue.
“Siguro, sa mga personal na sa amin, siguro maraming adjustments kasi unang-una, dati si Justin andun para sa amin,” the sophomore playmaker admitted after the game.
And Thompson stressed the Gin Kings should learn to thrive without Brownlee and rely on each other if they intend to sustain their bid for back-to-back PBA championships.
“Ngayon talagang wala na si Justin so kailangan namin mag-take over,” he said. “Siguro 'yun 'yung medyo magulo sa team ngayon, 'yung role namin sa isa't isa.”
“Siguro darating din na magiging okay lahat,” he added.
Thompson, for one, is among those who must make a conscious effort to step up after deferring to his fellow stars in the first seven games where he has averaged just seven points on just 6.6 attempts – making up for it with his 9.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists in 31.1 minutes.
While their offense leaves much to be desired, the defense was topnotch against the Beermen, a positive to the delight of coach Tim Cone, according to Thompson.
“Actually, si coach Tim, sabi s'ya sa amin na kung ganito lang lagi ang lalaruin namin, siguro darating din ang mga panalo,” said the All-Rookie team member, who tallied six points, seven boards, and four assists in 28 minutes off the bench against the Beermen. “Okay naman siya. Siguro kailangan lang namin yung finish sa bandang huli.”
“Si coach Tim, talagang yung confidence niya sa amin, yung motivation niya sa amin ngayon, kailangan pataas pa rin 'yung kumpyansa namin, kahit 3-4 kami,” he added. “Hindi dapat kami down. Sana, talagang keep working hard, keep grinding pa rin, sabi niya.”