MANILA, Philippines -- Ginebra import Justin Brownlee was unfazed even after playing all 53 minutes of their PBA Commissioner's Cup game against San Miguel Beer on Sunday.
Forty-eight minutes weren't enough to settle the score between the Gin Kings and the Beermen, but in the end the defending champions secured a hard-earned 110-107 triumph. Brownlee came through with 39 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists, and converted a massive and-1 in OT that gave the Gin Kings a 107-102 advantage.
Afterward, Ginebra coach Tim Cone admitted that he felt compelled to apologize to their celebrated import.
"I apologized to him. Start of the overtime, I apologized to him. I said, 'Justin, I'm sorry I haven't gotten you a rest.' He just smiled and said, 'That's okay coach'," Cone revealed.
"Like I said, that just goes to show how much we wanted this win, how much we needed it. He played 53 minutes, and we needed every second that he was on the floor to win this game," he added.
Brownlee confirmed that playing the entire game was a non-issue for him. Indeed, he preferred to stay on the court given the caliber of their opponent.
"I was okay with it," he said. "Couple of times I got tired, had a couple of cramps too but those type of games, you always want to stay in there and fight through whatever's going on, if you're tired or fatigued or having any kind of pain."
"Just wanted to fight through it, especially in that type of game against San Miguel," he added.
Brownlee battled through fatigue to make big play after big play, none bigger than his chasedown block of Alex Cabagnot with 1:26 to go in regulation, and the Gin Kings clinging to a 99-97 advantage.
"We made a turnover, and they had a breakaway, it was a four-point turnaround and he stopped it, and that gave us the momentum back," Cone said of the defensive stop.
"To be honest, I didn't think I was going to get to him. Alex, he's very crafty at finishing and I think that time, we kind of went up quick and I just gave it my all and try to make the play and luckily, I did," said Brownlee, for his part.
For Cone, Brownlee's willingness to play the entire game -- against an opponent as tough as San Miguel -- showed that their import was "a trooper."
"That's why he's who is," Cone said of Brownlee, who has led Ginebra to three championships. "He'll play through anything -- physicality, tiredness, cramps, he had cramps at the end of regulation, so truly, a joy to coach."
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