Even Justin Brownlee himself acknowledged that he didn’t have a stellar showing offensively, Saturday.
Known as someone who can drop 50 with so much ease, the do-it-all import got limited in Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinal opener versus the defensive-minded Magnolia Hotshots.
The reigning Best Import — who was averaging 35.9 points at the end of the elimination round — only managed to produce 20 points as he was the focal point of the Hotshots’ defense. He still had 16 rebounds and five assists.
“I obviously didn’t have one of the best games this conference.”
But even if he had the biggest target on his back, Brownlee still delivered late in the game. His 20th point came by way of a three-pointer, which broke the 77-all deadlock and allowed the Gin Kings to gain enough momentum.
And that is why Brownlee was not as downcast despite being limited. But beyond the 8-2 finishing kick they pulled off, what makes the three-time PBA champion satisfied was the way they played defense as a whole.
That was evident in the final 2:06, where they prevented the opposition to come close from the six-point wall they built.
“I think as a team, we played great defensively.
“Not giving up too many points and just staying focused on defense even though our offense wasn’t up to par as usual. I think it was a great team effort defensively,” said the 6-foot-4 guard-forward out of St. John’s.
Ginebra has moved to a win away from the semifinals. But Brownlee is not looking too far ahead, warning that the Hotshots play better when they are coming off a loss — the American cager surely knows what he’s talking about.
Back in their 2018 Governors’ Cup semis encounter, the Gin Kings snatched Game Four of their best-of-five series, but that proved to be the only win they would get as the Hotshots finished them off in Game Five to end their two-year reign.
Magnolia would go on to win that conference’s championship by beating the Alaska Aces in six games.
“They usually play better after a loss, unlike probably most teams or people do but they’re a championship-caliber team,” Brownlee said. “We know they’ve won a championship — they’ve been to the finals this past conference.
“So, we’re just expecting another battle and we know if we wanna win the next game, we’re gonna have to play a whole lot harder than we did tonight.”
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