This Day in PBA History: Brownlee sinks ‘the Shot’ to deliver Ginebra the title

Rey Joble

Posted at Oct 19 2021 11:44 AM

The shot that made Justin Brownlee iconic and ended Barangay Ginebra San Miguel's 7-year title drought happened on this day, October 19, five years ago, as the Gin Kings closed out what was considered one of the most epic finales in PBA history.

Ginebra defeated Meralco in 6 games of their best-of-7 championship series with Brownlee's buzzer-beating 3-pointer off his counterpart Allen Durham, allowing the Gin Kings to wrap up the series with a 91-88 victory in Game 6.

Coming in as a replacement import for Paul Harris, the Gin Kings' original reinforcement that season, Brownlee proved he deserved to be ranked among one of the best imports ever to play in the PBA, and probably one of the best closers.

Brownlee was so great he became one of the resident reinforcements in the PBA, and one of the all-time favorites of Tim Cone as the import has drawn comparison to another great reinforcement who gave the American mentor multiple championships while playing for the Alaska franchise, Sean Chambers.

"Maybe Justin is Mr. Do-It-All. He does everything for us, not only on the court, but also off the court. He's a great chemistry guy. He keeps everybody together like Sean (Chambers) did. They had different personalities, but the approach to the teammates are very, very similar," said Cone. 

Brownlee's ability to blend well with his teammates, on and off the court, was the reason for the Gin Kings' success in most of the times he played here.

"They (Justin and Sean) put their teammates first, before them, which is very rare amongst imports. Imports come in and feel they need to perform. They've got to carry the team, they've got to put the numbers," said Cone. 

"Justin and Sean understood that they were there for the players. The players are not there for them. I think that's the mindset of these two guys that are very similar. That endears them to their teammates. The local players play hard with Sean and Justin because it's them (locals) first before they put themselves. That's their secret to their success."

But what's more amazing for Brownlee, according to Cone, was not just his on-court performance. He was even more spectacular during practices that no one among his teammates want to guard him to avoid embarrassment. 

"Aside from the fact on what he does on the floor -- he rebounds, he blocks shots, he dishes out assists, he drives to the basket, he makes pull ups, I mean, what doesn't he do? He does it all in big moments," said Cone. "Obviously, "The Shot" where he hit the three-pointer over Allen Durham was such an epitome of him, he does that in all the four years he's been with us. All the time." 

"But you haven't seen all yet. It's like Johnny Abarrientos, when you see all those stuff he made on the court and you're amazed, if you've been to practice everyday and watch Justin practice everyday, you'll be even more amazed. The things he does in practice were just like, 'Whoa'. There's no guy on the team that wants to guard Justin. Even though Justin doesn't want to embarrass them, they'll get embarrassed because he's just that great."

Brownlee won 4 titles playing for Ginebra, 3 in the season-ending Governors Cup and one in the Commissioner's Cup. His greatness even led to discussions of having him on board as a naturalized player to play for the Gilas Pilipinas national squad and reinforce the country in major international tournaments.

Norman Black, coach of the Meralco Bolts, whose team has been tormented thrice by the Brownlee-led Gin Kings, considered the import among those to be put in the all-time greatest list of reinforcements in the PBA.

Cone couldn't be more proud as Bronwlee added to his great coaching legacy.
"I could take credit and say he's so good because of my coaching. No, I'm a good coach because he's so good," said Cone. 

Rey Joble is a sports journalist who has been covering the PBA since 1998, and followed the league as a fan way before that. 


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