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2024 Summer Olympics

Tim Cone laments NBA missed opportunity with Justin Brownlee: ‘He shouldn’t be in the Philippines’


Watching Justin Brownlee is like watching a maestro in an orchestra.

Standing at 6-foot-6 but built like a Mack truck, he combines speed, finesse, and power all at the same time.

And in almost every crescendo of his performance, he nearly always comes out on top.

An absolute winner, he is an Asian Games gold medalist, a Southeast Asian Games gold medalist, a six-time PBA champion with Ginebra, an ABL champion with San Miguel Alab, and a Lebanese League champion with Al-Riyadi.

Gilas head coach Tim Cone is the first to admit that Brownlee makes him look good.

19th-Asian-Games-Philippines-def-China-Brownlee Tim Cone laments NBA missed opportunity with Justin Brownlee: 'He shouldn't be in the Philippines' 2024 Summer Olympics Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

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“Justin also plays for my club team in the Philippines. He’s played with us for eight years,” he disclosed to the media in Riga, Latvia, after Gilas’ 94-96 defeat to Georgia that paved the way for them to advance to the semifinals of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament-Riga 2024.

The thing that makes Justin special is, number one, he is absolutely the best teammate I’ve ever seen in my coaching career. Just an absolute best teammate,” continued the 25-time PBA champion coach.

He went on, “And number two, he has that rare skill where any team he plays for, he makes everyone better. They play at a higher level wherever Justin goes.

“I really thought I was a good coach, but then he goes to other teams and he still wins everywhere he goes. Obviously, it’s not me. It’s really him because he just wins everywhere. Any place he goes to, they just win championships. It’s amazing.”

Having been with Brownlee for the last eight years, Cone still wonders what happened to Brownlee’s career.

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After going undrafted in the 2011 NBA Draft, he had stints with Maine and Erie in the G-League.

But no one in the NBA gave Brownlee a shot.

2024-FIBA-OQT-Gilas-vs-Georgia-Justin-Brownlee-1 Tim Cone laments NBA missed opportunity with Justin Brownlee: 'He shouldn't be in the Philippines' 2024 Summer Olympics Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

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“He is a big moment guy. He plays huge in big moments and he’s proven that time and time again. What he is doing in this tournament is no surprise whatsoever given what we’ve seen throughout his career in the Philippines,” Cone remarked about his go-to player.

Continuing, “He’s dominant there, executes to a tee, and he is always engaged. If he is aggressive, there’s nobody better than him.

“And somebody said this before: somebody in the NBA missed out on this guy. They should have seen this guy. He should not be in the Philippines; he should be in the NBA.”

At age 36, it might be too late for Brownlee to reach the NBA.

That is why he is making the most of every Gilas stint he has.

In the ongoing OQT, Brownlee is averaging 27.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 8.5 assists per game.

He has also drawn praise from his teammates, with Kai Sotto dubbing him the ‘Michael Jordan of the Philippines’. Meanwhile, Dwight Ramos believes that Brownlee is the ‘best teammate he has ever played with.’

Though he didn’t get to suit up with an NBA team, it’s those praises that matter for Brownlee.

They are his badge of honor.

2024-FIBA-OQT-Gilas-def-Latvia-Justin-Brownlee-1 Tim Cone laments NBA missed opportunity with Justin Brownlee: 'He shouldn't be in the Philippines' 2024 Summer Olympics Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

(C) FIBA.basketball

“I always pride myself on being a good teammate, trying to jell with the guys, getting them going, and playing off them while getting them to play off me as well,” Brownlee shared.

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“I definitely appreciate the compliments from those guys. Being compared to the Michael Jordan of the Philippines, I don’t even know what to say about that. I definitely appreciate the compliment and I wouldn’t be anything without my teammates,” the naturalized Filipino added.

“A famous quote that Coach Tim always tells the guys is, ‘One is too small a number to achieve greatness,’ so I just try to live by that.”

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