MANILA, Philippines -- That Scottie Thompson has become a contender for Best Player of the Conference comes as no surprise to Barangay Ginebra import Justin Brownlee.
Brownlee has witnessed Thompson's development since his rookie year with the Gin Kings, and he is in awe of how much the versatile guard has improved and how his confidence has grown. In the 2021 PBA Governors' Cup, more responsibility was given to Thompson due to the injury suffered by Stanley Pringle, and he has risen to the occasion.
Through 17 games, Thompson is averaging 13.5 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game, while playing his usual brand of solid defense. With him at the point, the Gin Kings advanced to the finals of the conference for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
"Man, the growth of Scottie, he's still growing, you know what I mean?" said Brownlee on Monday. "When I first came to this team, he was a rookie, and you know, the fans see the easy part, as far as what they see in the game."
"But the hard part, Scottie is at practice probably before, maybe before everybody. I come in, a lot of days, and he's in there, he got a sweat going, he's coming from the weight room, he's doing this, he's doing that," he added.
"So his work ethic is incredible, and it's definitely showing in the games," said Brownlee.
Nowhere is Thompson's improvement more visible than on the offensive end, where he has shown more confidence in taking -- and making -- shots for the Gin Kings. Gone are the days when Thompson would turn down even open shots, particularly from long distance.
"I've seen him evolve to a player that wasn't as confident as he is now, especially with his jump shot. He's gotten incredibly way better with his jump shot," noted Brownlee.
"He's getting better with his playmaking ability, and you know, he's always been a rebounder. So that keeps getting better too, you know," the American import added.
"I enjoy watching his process, and it's been a blessing to be able to be a part of it."
Thompson is now the top contender to be crowned as the Best Player of the Conference, in what would be a first in his career. But the 6-foot-1 guard was quick to downplay the possibility.
Instead, he stressed that their focus is on their upcoming finals series against the Meralco Bolts, which starts Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
"Para sa akin, sa ngayon, focused muna ako dito sa finals. Kasi, mas importante 'to para sa team," said Thompson. "Personally, happy na ako na nakasama ako sa pinagpipilian, pero for now, dito muna ako sa finals mag-focus."
The BPC as well as the Best Import award -- for which Brownlee is the front-runner -- will be handed out ahead of Game 4 on April 14 at the Big Dome.