MANILA, Philippines – A significant challenge awaits Gilas Philippines as they prepare for the FIBA World Cup in 2023.
At the Philippine Arena, Justin Brownlee was not only stunned in two qualifiers. He essentially served as Gilas Pilipinas’ principal leader.
In his debut game with ‘PILIPINAS’ emblazoned on the front of his jersey, Brownlee, who became a full-fledged Filipino last January 12 wowed with 17 points, five assists, four rebounds, and two steals. Then against Lebanon, the hottest team on the continent, he led the Philippines to a 107-96 victory.
Brownlee was effectively the driving force behind the Gilas team’s assault against Jordan three days later. The resident immigrant of Ginebra from Tifton, Georgia, nearly upset Jordan by himself in the Asian Qualifiers with a record-tying 41 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, and a block.
Is Brownlee, a three-time PBA Best Import, a better match for Gilas than the 2020-21 NBA Sixth Player of the Year for the World Cup after his performances for Gilas?
Chot Reyes, the head coach and director of the program, praised Justin Brownlee’s performance after Gilas’ tight loss to Jordan and said that there isn’t much to say about his efficacy there. Reyes addressed the subject of naturalized players as well, saying that Brownlee has consistently been ready to fill any position needed by the club.
Brownlee is prepared to contribute to the team, whether it be by competing in particular competitions or filling in for Jordan Clarkson. After Gilas’ impressive campaign in Window 4, during which Clarkson also gave a solid performance for the squad, Reyes made these remarks. The Gilas management and coaching staff are presently putting the finishing touches on their plans for the upcoming training camp, pocket competitions, and tune-up games following the SEA Games in Cambodia.
Clarkson put up 27 points, seven assists, and six rebounds in a road loss to Lebanon of 85-81. He then expertly outplayed Saudi Arabia at home with 23 points, six assists, and five rebounds.
Even though Clarkson is world-level, Reyes claimed that he is not a lock to win the Worlds. Nobody is.
Gilas head coach and program director Chot Reyes emphasized that there are no guaranteed spots on the team, for both locals and naturalized players. While the team currently has Ange Kouame on the roster, Reyes stated that they are not ruling out the possibility of adding another player who fits the team’s needs, particularly someone who is 6-10 or 6-11 in height. The Gilas coaching staff and management are currently evaluating their options and considering all available players for selection. Reyes’ comments come as the team continues to prepare for the upcoming training camp, pocket tournaments, and tune-up games after the Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia. The team’s goal is to field the strongest possible lineup for the FIBA Asia Cup and the World Cup, and all players will need to compete for their place on the team.