Give Justin Brownlee his flowers while you can.
That, in essence, was the message of Ginebra head coach Tim Cone as he expressed admiration towards Justin Brownlee following yet another splendid performance that steered the team back to the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals.
“Take advantage of it while you can,” offered the league’s only 23-time champion mentor shortly after the Barangay’s 112-93 conquest of NLEX in Game Four of the semis, Wednesday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
“Come and see him. He’s not gonna be here forever, but you’re gonna be able to tell your family, your friends, your cousins, everybody, that you watched Justin Brownlee play. And that’s gonna be a special thing,” he added.
Brownlee was nothing short of spectacular in the rout. He submitted a playoff career-high 47 points, his best in the conference so far and the most he’s made since dropping a career-best 50 in the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup.
According to league stats chief Fidel Mangonon III, the first 14 points of his output moved the American cager into No. 6 overall in the all-time scoring among PBA imports, overtaking the legendary Francois Wise (4,332).
The former Best Import shot an excellent 70-percent from the floor in nearly 45 minutes of play. He also collected 10 rebounds and six assists, and did damage on the other end as well with three steals and three blocks.
Such an outing, said Cone, was like watching one of the league’s all-time greats in Billy Ray Bates, himself a former Ginebra import who helped bring the club its first league title in 1986 by forming a duo with fellow luminary Michael Hackett.
“Justin playing is the kind of thing that you’ll look back on.
“And, for me, I remember watching a game, going live and watching Billy Ray Bates play. As a young kid, and that’s still indelible in my mind, watching and being able to say I was there with Billy Ray Bates,” he said,
“And so, this is what, 30, 40 years later. But this is the time, you watch Justin Brownlee, you’ll be able to say, ‘Hey, I watched Justin Brownlee.’ Just like, ‘I watched Billy Ray Bates,’ and it’s the new generation.”
Cone just has nothing but praises for his resident import. For him, Brownlee never ceases to amaze him even if they’ve gone to numerous campaigns alongside each other — they’re now headed to their fifth Finals together.
“We’ve had the pleasure of seeing that for what, five conferences now? Or six conferences? And, every time he comes, he just amazes me even more and more. He’s a phenomenal, phenomenal player,” he said.
But it isn’t just his on-court exploits that have Cone in awe.
“Honestly, and this is said a lot, but this is really, really true of Justin. He’s a better person than he is a player. I mean, he’s just a tremendous, tremendous person. Kind, humble. That’s just amazing,” he shared.
“And, as I said, life is a lot easier when he’s around.”
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