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Gilas hero Justin Brownlee pays tribute to Abueva and Co.

Justin Brownlee has been receiving much love from Filipino basketball fans due to his exploits that led Gilas Pilipinas to the Asian Games gold medal on Friday night.

Brownlee had back-to-back 30-plus games against Iran and China during the quarterfinal and semifinal, respectively, before finishing with a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds, along with five assists as Gilas subdued Jordan, 70-60 to end the country's 61-year gold medal drought in the Asian Games.

Justin Brownlee TMT FILE PHOTO

Still, the 6-foot-4 Brownlee, ever the team player, took the time to honor Calvin Abueva, Terrence Romeo, Moala Tautuaa and Jason Perkins, four players, who were originally named in the final 12 by interim coach Tim Cone, but were replaced at the last minute due to eligibility issues.

Days before the team flew to Hangzhou, China, Cone had to replace the four with Chris Ross, Kevin Alas, Arvin Tolentino and CJ Perez, while Marcio Lassiter, came in to take the spot of an ailing Roger Pogoy.

Despite being changed at the last minute, the four stayed on and practiced with Gilas, while Romeo, Tautuaa and Perkins even showed up when the national team had its only tune-up match against the Changwon LG Sakers at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.

“It's so special. We didn't have a lot of time together for practice and we had some changes for the players, even the guys who got changed and couldn't participate,” Brownlee said in an interview with One Sports.

“I wanna thank those guys too, because they were shooting for us too, to get us prepared. They came to practice everyday, played hard, just shout out out to those guys,” stressed the Gilas naturalized player, who delivered the game-winning triple in the national team's come-from-behind 77-76 win over host China in the semifinal game.

“They were supposed to be here. They definitely (are part), they text (us) in the group chat. They earned this medal just as much as we did.”

The Asian Games basketball marked the second gold medal Brownlee won as a naturalized player for the Philippines.

He first got his gold when he led the Philippines to a successful championship redemption of the Southeast Asian Games men's basketball last May in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

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Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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