There was a familiar figure watching the UAAP game between the Adamson Falcons and UP Fighting Maroons on Sunday.
To Pinoy basketball fans, he was the man who helped Barangay Ginebra San Miguel win its last two championships. To Ginebra followers specifically, he may very well be like a god amongst men.
Ginebra import Justin Brownlee was in attendance inside the Smart-Araneta Coliseum on Sunday and he looked like somebody who felt right at home.
“I feel more like a Filipino the longer I stay here. I love it here, the people, great food, the chicken adobo, the basketball here, the college games,” Brownlee shared. “I just love basketball so I just come and check the games out whenever I get the chance.”
The Big Dome is a significant place for Ginebra and Brownlee especially, as it was the venue where he hit his famous title-clinching triple in Game 6 of the 2016 PBA Governors’ Cup. A year later, he won his second championship in the PBA by putting up big numbers for the Kings in a rematch against the Meralco Bolts.
“Few days after the championship, [I was] just celebrating with the team, celebrating with my family,” he recalled after defending their PBA crown less than two weeks ago. “When I get back [to the States] I’ll probably do something with my brothers, stuff like that. But it’s just really trying to relax and looking forward to next challenge.”
After a grueling seven-game series, Brownlee had the chance to go around Manila and even an out-of-town trip in Batangas the past weekend. He has also visited a number of restaurants and hangout spots with his teammates. And when Adamson is playing in the UAAP, you can count that he is also in the stands supporting his friend Papi Sarr.
“I’m actually a fan of Adamson and Papi,” the big man said on Sarr. “I like the team and I like him as a player. I think he’s an incredible rebounder and when he gets the ball around the basket, you might as well say it’s two points.”
Brownlee has watched a number of UAAP games this season and based on what he has seen, he thinks Philippine college basketball is not too different from the collegiate scene back home. “Comparing to the US, it’s a lot similar,” observed Brownlee, who played for St. John’s University in New York City.
“The college atmosphere, for me it’s a lot of excitement especially with the band playing and the fans, they get really into it, they get emotional. I’m familiar with it and it’s exciting,” he went on.
Having played in three conferences in the last two years, Brownlee has become a fixture in the PBA and Filipino hoops. And if he could have it his way, he would love to keep on playing for the most famous team in the country.
“Hopefully I could return pretty soon. I definitely would love to play the second and third conferences. I don’t think they have decided yet, but hopefully, I’ll be back,” he humbly said.
Brownlee will return to the United States this Tuesday and he plans to take a break, assess, and prepare for his next challenge.
“Just relax a little bit, reflect. Whatever opportunity comes up, I’ll probably take it. Couple teams contacted me, but I got to talk with my agent. I’m just trying to relax right now, reflect a little bit, and take it from there. But Ginebra is always the priority,” he closed.