MANILA, Philippines -- Barangay Ginebra head coach Tim Cone gave an unprompted endorsement of his import, Justin Brownlee, as a potential naturalized player for the Philippine men's basketball team on Sunday.
After Brownlee sparked Ginebra's come-from-behind 110-95 win over Meralco in the PBA Commissioner's Cup, Cone ended his post-game press conference by praising the versatile reinforcement.
"Isn't Justin amazing?" he said of the import, who had 27 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists in their win.
"I tell ya, I know that Andray (Blatche) is a great player, and I know all those guys, I really don't have any say in that. But I tell you my vote goes for Justin for the national team," he added.
"He can change a team, not just by his play, but by his personality. He's an amazing player and human being, he really is. But that's not my call."
The calls for Brownlee's naturalization grew louder after the import led Ginebra to the Commissioner's Cup title last year, and in August 2018 a house bill was filed to jumpstart the process.
Brownlee himself is unsure of the progress of his naturalization, especially after his agent, Sheryl Reyes, passed away earlier this month. Reyes had been coordinating with those in charge, said the import.
"Hopefully the process is still going forward and it's not standing still or going backwards. I'm still excited for it. I'm just being patient, and whatever happens, happens," said Brownlee.
The Ginebra import knows that even if he becomes a Philippine citizen, there's no assurance that he will play for flag and country.
"They have a really good team. They got Blatche and he's been a really good player for them. Right now, with his success that he's been having, it's kinda hard to see them without him," Brownlee pointed out.
Make no mistake, however: Brownlee would love to play for the Philippines internationally.
"Man, it would definitely be an honor to be able to represent the country. That's definitely been a dream of mine since I've been here in the Philippines now, and connected with the Philippine culture and the people. It's been unbelievable," siad Brownlee, who has been embraced by Filipino basketball fans ever since he led Ginebra to a breakthrough championship in 2016.
"If the opportunity is there, I would love to," he stressed.
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