JUSTIN Brownlee gave up personal achievement in pursuit of team glory.
Tim Cone praised the Ginebra import for opting to stay within the team system in a bid to help the Kings win their very first PBA championship in almost a decade - a sacrifice that eventually cost him the Best Import award.
The humble Ginebra reinforcement lost to Meralco counterpart Allen Durham in the category for Best Import by a slim margin, 1,273-1,028, yielding both the statistical and voting sides of the race to the 28-year-old winner.
But he could have pushed his luck a bit had he tried to go on his own and make a strong statement for the individual award.
Good thing for the Kings, Brownlee always puts team above himself.
“One of the things he really prides himself in is the fact that we do things as a team,” said Cone. “That’s what has been Justin’s strength for us, that he stayed on what we do.”
The Kings' consistent team play for the entire conference is the reason why no one among the Ginebra locals are in the running for any of yearend individual honor to be handed out by the league this Friday during the annual Leo Awards, according to their multi-titled coach.
“Justin’s just isn’t a one-man show, just like we didn’t have anybody in the top five, Scottie (Thompson) not being in the Rookie of the Year award, we didn’t have anybody in the Best (Player of the) Conference, we didn’t have anybody for the MVP (award),” Cone noted.
In a way the multi-titled coach sees similarities between Brownlee’s case and that of his former import at Alaska in Sean Chambers.
Cone recalled Chambers played 11 seasons (1989-2000) for the franchise, won six championships with Alaska, including a grand slam in 1996, but was named Best Import just once. He was eventually awarded by the league with a '100 Percent' award near the end of his PBA career.
Like Brownlee, he said Chambers was also a team player for a highly-successful Alaska team led by its so-called Big Three of Johnny Abarrientos, Bong Hawkins, and Jojo Lastimosa.
“People didn’t recognize what a great player he (Chambers) was. Maybe they didn’t think he was a great player, but he was a great team player, and maybe one of the greatest of all time in our league,” said Cone of his former import.
“I feel that with Justin, who’s a great team player,” added Cone. “So he may be here for the next six, seven years, and he may never win a Best Import award because he’s not gonna thrill you or wow you like a lot of other guys will.”
Cone said he’s hardly bothered by Brownlee not getting the award, and so did the product of St. John’s University.
That should be a good mindset to take for Ginebra to finally focus on ending its eight-year title drought.