PBA: Ginebra's first impression of Brownlee? Not so good
Paul Kennedy Lintag on Jul 27, 2020 12:05 PM
When Brownlee first came to the PBA, no one expected him to stay, even his own teammates weren't that convinced at the start. (Photo by Richard Esguerra)
Justin Brownlee is now a bonafide Ginebra legend, but as we all know now, he wasn't even supposed to come to the PBA.
Brownlee was tapped as an emergency replacement for the injured Paul Harris in the 2016 PBA Governors' Cup and originally only had a month-long contract.
When Brownlee first came to the PBA, no one expected him to stay, even his own teammates weren't that convinced at the start.
To make matters worse, Brownlee got cramps late in his very first game and Ginebra lost a close game to Alaska.
"Totoo yun, lahat kami nagusap-usap sabi namin, nako kailangan na muna ata natin isangla bahay natin. Inside joke sa team yun," guard LA Tenorio said on 2OT about the arrival of Brownlee to the team four years ago.
"Accident talaga kasi eh. Pang-apat na choice namin siya, although nakita na siya ni Coach Tim before. Pangatlo o pang-apat na choice namin eh, eh hindi na available. Naglalakad siya sa Vegas tinawagan siya. From Vegas, umuwi siya, wala siyang dala. Pagdating, walang hiya to wala man lang rubber shoes. Tapos, wala sa kundisyon, as in hindi makatapos ng practice," Tenorio added.
Ginebra taking Brownlee was a gamble through and through. At the time, the Gin Kings were still in the middle of their eight-year PBA championship drought.
The pressure was on.
However, the recommendation of Harris, the former TNT champion and Ginebra's injured import at the time, was a huge help to Brownlee's case. The two were teammates in the NBA D-League for the Maine Red Claws.
"Mag-kaibigan yung dalawa," Tenorio said of Harris and Brownlee.
"Sabi niya [Harris], 'yeah he's a great guy [Brownlee], he's good.' Ang pumalit kay Paul Harris, kaibigan niya na na-kwentuhan na niya before about the Philippines," LA added.
Harris was eventually proven right and the Gin Kings' gamble paid off as Ginebra won the Governors' Cup title thanks to Brownlee.
Ginebra has since added three more championships with JB. Still, the road to make Brownlee a perfect fit was far from easy.
"Tinyaga ni Coach Tim yun, at ang tiyaga rin ni Brownlee," Tenorio said.
"Siguro mga after five games, naka-adjust na siya. Nakalaro pa kami ng out of town na hirap na hirap siya. 24/7 may nakatutok sa kaniya na trainer. Tyaga talaga. Lumabas yung pagka-relax niya tapos ang bait. Talagang wala ka masabi," LA added of Brownlee.
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