PBA Finals: Brownlee comes out with series-best nine dimes
Mark Escarlote on Jan 12, 2020 10:49 PM
Justin Brownlee dished out nine assists in Barangay Ginebra's Game 3 win. (Josh Albelda)
Barangay Ginebra import Justin Brownlee came a dish short of posting double-digit assists in his best playmaking outing so far in the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals.
Bouncing back from just a single assist in the first two games of the best-of-seven series, Brownlee tallied nine dimes in the Gin Kings’ 92-84 victory on Sunday at the Big Dome for a 2-1 lead.
Brownlee, who had 24 points and nine assists, admitted that he wasn’t aware that he was missing a facet of his game.
“Nah, I was unaware until coach told me, but it's something I try to not to really focus on, you know, stats or getting assists or things like that,” said Brownlee. “I do love getting my teammates open shots and things like that.”
Brownlee’s biggest assists came late in the fourth as Ginebra held off Meralco’s rally.
With the Gin Kings protecting a five-point lead under the last two minutes, Brownlee found an open LA Tenorio for an open three to give Ginebra a 90-82 lead. He then set up Japeth Aguilar to score on a pick-and-roll play that gave Ginebra a 92-84 advantage with just 30 seconds left.
"They made some good reads, reading the defense, finding the open areas. LA, he came back to his spot and got that open three," said Brownlee. "And Japeth, he made a great cut to the basket and used his athleticism to grab the ball and score. It was a great play."
Head coach Tim Cone was aware of the fact that while Brownlee scoring remains consistent his assists went missing in their first two outings.
“Yeah, well I think everybody did. I think Twitter did, I think Facebook did, I think every social media outlet did made a big deal about his assists numbers,” said Cone.
But the mentor defended his ward that the Bolts’ defense on Brownlee took away his passing options and Meralco was dictating the pace in their first two games.
“So there's a myriad of reasons why,” said Cone. “It's not because Justin doesn't like to pass the ball. We all know he loves to pass, he's a great passer. But the defense was just not letting him create.”
But the Gin Kings in Game 3 was able to get their running game going and took advantage of Meralco losing energy after missing a vital cog in Raymond Almazan, who hurt his knee early in the first quarter.
“And again, tonight, we got in the open court a little bit more,” said Cone. “He was able to get into the paint a little bit more, and create some assists. So, and when he's doing that, I think that we're playing at a really good rhythm. We're playing off his assists more than we play off his scores.”
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