ALTHOUGH Justin Brownlee is already 34, Gilas Pilipinas assistant coach Jong Uichico is convinced that the naturalized Filipino player still has a lot left in his tank.
In fact, the 60-year-old veteran coach sees a lot of upside in Brownlee's upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games stint as member of the Philippine men's basketball team.
“He (Brownlee) will be a positive factor because he's familiar with the players and that's already an advantage, aside from being a great teammate,” Uichico told The Manila Times.
Uichico added that Filipino fans already had a glimpse of Brownlee playing in the international stage for Gilas after averaging 29 points, eight rebounds and four assists in his two-game stint in the last window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers played at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
The 6-foot-4 Brownlee fired 17 points in leading Gilas to a 107-96 victory against Lebanon on February 23, then erupted for 41 points though the Philippines' gutsy rally fell short as the team bowed to Jordan 90-91 three days later.
“Brownlee is a very versatile player. He can play multiple positions. He's passionate as a national player and you can see that he's proud of that, and for sure he'll cherish that experience,” added Uichico, who is also an accomplished international coach, having guided the Philippines to two gold medal finishes in the 2013 and 2017 SEA Games.
Uichico said Gilas will surely have its hands full in its effort to reclaim the SEA Games men's basketball title from defending champion Indonesia. But he also believes Brownlee will play a big factor for Gilas in the upcoming Cambodia SEA Games that starts on May 5.
“Malakas pa naman siya because he keeps himself in good shape and he plays the whole year round,” he said. “And because of technology, he doesn't play like he's 34, and I believe he still has a lot of years left.”
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