PHNOM PENH, Cambodia – Slowly but surely, Gilas Pilipinas star Justin Brownlee has made great strides since his early struggles in the Southeast Asian Games here.
Brownlee said he feels better after dealing with dehydration and cramping brought by the sweltering heat as he erupted for 34 points in an 84-76 win over Indonesia on Monday, May 15, that propelled the Philippines to the finals.
He also added 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks to help the Filipinos get payback after they fell short of a 14th straight gold following a stunning loss to the Indonesians in Vietnam last year.
It was an all-around effort from Brownlee that eased concerns over his fitness when he scored just 10 points on a poor 3-of-13 shooting in a 79-68 defeat to Cambodia, which the Philippines will face for the prized gold.
“I don’t know if I’m ever going to get used to it. I’m cramping up right now, but it’s getting better for sure, especially from that Cambodia game,” said Brownlee.
“It feels 10 times better. Just trying to get a rhythm going, and you know, giving it all we got for the gold-medal game.”
Bannered by several naturalized players from the United States like Darrin Dorsey, Sayeed Pridgett, and Brandon Peterson, Cambodia has proven that lofty expectations for the gold are warranted.
Cambodia won all of its three group stage matches by double digits then hurdled perennial contender Thailand in the semifinals through a 76-66 win on Monday.
Brownlee said Gilas Pilipinas has little room for errors if it wants to stand a chance against Cambodia and reclaim the gold.
“They’re a very talented team. So it’s just any mistake we make, whether it’s defense or offense, they’d really take advantage of it,” Brownlee said.
“I think if we could limit our mistakes, try to stay solid, I think that gives us a good chance of winning against them.”
There is no rest for the weary as Gilas Pilipinas immediately returns to action on Tuesday to lock horns with Cambodia at 3 pm (4 pm, Manila time). – Rappler.com