JUSTINE Brownlee will have his hands full in his next PBA tour of duty as Barangay Ginebra defends its PBA Commissioner’s Cup title beginning on May 19.
Brownlee faces bigger, intimidating, and athletic reinforcements who are coming over for the mid-season conference, including three former Best Import recipients who like him have previously won championships in the pro league.
San Miguel’s Charles Rhodes, Rob Dozier of Phoenix, and Denzel Bowles of Rain or Shine are out to give Brownlee a run for his money.
Rhodes was the best of his batch in this same conference two years ago when the Beermen reigned supreme; Dozier powered Alaska to its last league title in 2013 while a season earlier Bowles steered the Purefoods franchise to the top by beating Talk ‘N Text in a nerve-wracking Game 7 of the Commissioner’s Cup Finals.
Still, Brownlee will be the yardstick by which all the other imports will be measured.
Brownlee had proven that he can compete with the best, as was the case last year when despite being the smallest among the imports, the 31-year-old native of Georgia led Ginebra to the championship by beating Renaldo Balkman and the Beermen in six games in the finals.
It was also in this same campaign where Brownlee would win his first-ever Best Import award.
Ginebra's resident reinforcement is no doubt a proven winner. He is in fact coming off a championship stint with the Al Riyadi Club, which just ruled the Lebanese Basketball Championship for the 24th time.
Prior to it, Brownlee also won two Governors Cup titles with the Kings and the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) crown with Alab Pilipinas.
Others out to crowd Brownlee include returnees Alex Stepheson (Blackwater) and Tony Mitchell (NLEX), Kyle James (Columbian Dyip), Gani Lawal (Meralco), Prince Ibeh (NorthPort), Chris Daniels (Alaska), and Terrence Jones (TnT Katropa), perhaps the import with the most impressive credentials in this year’s batch.
Only Magnolia has yet to name its import.