MANILA, Philippines — Reduced to a mere spectator at the Fiba World Cup, Justin Brownlee had little to say about how his brothers-in-arms were faring.
“Watching the games, you know, I can’t necessarily say it was hard to watch,” Brownlee said of the 1-4 at home that also saw Gilas miss out on a ticket to the Paris Olympics.
“But I can say that I am extremely proud of the guys,” added the beloved Barangay Ginebra. “They went out there and played extremely hard and extremely tough.”
Brownlee was also keen to praise Chot Reyes, the national coach who resigned from the Gilas shortly after the victory over regional power and old tormentor China.
“I am extremely proud of Coach Chot. I think despite the criticism, I still think he did an incredible job. I think he should get more praise than criticism, more than anything,” he continued.
Brownlee starred for struggling Reyes in the sixth and final window of the Asian World Cup qualifiers, leading the Philippines to a split of matches against Lebanon and Jordan at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.
The versatile striker, who became a naturalized Filipino earlier this year, also participated in fights alongside Reyes during the Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia, where the Philippines captured the gold medal.
Before taking a back seat to Jordan Clarkson at the Fiba World Cup, Brownlee also trained with Gilas in Estonia and Lithuania.
Brownlee said the results may have left a bitter taste with many fans in this basketball-mad country, but that doesn’t take away from the kind of fight this group of men put up.
“Unfortunately, we faced very difficult teams. From the first game to the last game,” he said. “Italy is in the Top 10 in the world. The Dominican Republic? With Karl-Anthony Towns, one of the best players in the world and above all one of the best big men (there)? Even with Angola, (Gilas) played with a lot of energy against physically gifted and athletic guys. South Sudan too. I can go on and on.
“At the end of the day, I can say I’m proud of the guys in the competition that they had to compete against,” Brownlee added. “They played extremely hard from their hearts and definitely showed Filipino pride and heart. It’s above all, and that’s all I could say about the World Cup.
To subscribe to APPLICANT MORE to access The Philippine Daily Inquirer and over 70 other titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to news, download as early as 4 a.m. and share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.
For comments, complaints or inquiries, Contact us.