(UPDATE) NATURALIZED Filipino Justin Brownlee has been cleared to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the first window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers this February.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) announced on Saturday that Brownlee has been given the green light to join the national team, marking a positive development after his previous setback. Just four months ago, Brownlee tested positive for Carboxy-THC, a prohibited substance by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that is linked to cannabis use.
“We’re elated that the consequences FIBA issued do not prevent Justin Brownlee from playing for Gilas in the upcoming window,” said SBP President Al Panlilio. “Having him as our naturalized player alongside some of our local talents that he has already played with before will be beneficial to the squad.”
Brownlee’s positive test result led to FIBA issuing a notice of charge, which proposed a three-month period of ineligibility and a provisional suspension period. This suspension commenced on November 9, 2023, preventing Brownlee from suiting up for Barangay Ginebra in the PBA 48th Season Commissioner’s Cup, where the team ultimately fell to the San Miguel Beermen in the semifinals.
Despite the setback, Brownlee’s presence on the court has been sorely missed. The 35-year-old last showcased his skills in the final of the 19th Asian Games men’s basketball tournament in Hangzhou, where he led the Philippines to victory over Jordan, securing the country’s first gold medal in the competition in 61 years on October 6.
A week later, it was announced that Brownlee had tested positive for Carboxy-THC. It is important to note that this substance is not performance-enhancing but is still prohibited by WADA. Consequently, Brownlee faced a short suspension.
Now, the 6-foot-4 Brownlee is set to reinforce Gilas Pilipinas as they face Hong Kong on February 22 at the Tsuen Wan Stadium and Taiwan on February 25 at the PhilSports Arena. His return to the national team is a cause for celebration among fans and basketball enthusiasts.
“I can’t wait to play basketball again and put all of this behind me. It’s always been an honor to represent the Philippines, and I’m happy to be given the chance again,” said Brownlee, expressing his excitement to be back on the court.
Brownlee will be joining his Barangay Ginebra San Miguel teammates Scottie Thompson and Jamie Malonzo in the national squad, which is led by head coach Tim Cone and team manager Richard Del Rosario. The team lineup also includes Chris Newsome, Calvin Oftana, CJ Perez, June Mar Fajardo, Dwight Ramos, AJ Edu, Carl Tamayo, Kai Sotto, and Kevin Quiambao.
Coach Cone shared his enthusiasm about Brownlee’s return, stating, “Justin Brownlee is a big part of the team and the program moving forward, and having him means we can hit the ground running. He’s already played with most of the guys, so chemistry will already be there. He can now ramp up his conditioning and be ready to go once his suspension is lifted.”
With Brownlee’s clearance, Gilas Pilipinas can now look forward to a stronger and more cohesive team as they compete in the FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers. His experience and skill set will undoubtedly contribute to the team’s success, and fans eagerly await his return to the court.
In conclusion, the news of Justin Brownlee being cleared to play for Gilas Pilipinas in the upcoming FIBA Asia Cup 2025 Qualifiers is a positive development for the team and its supporters. Brownlee’s return will bring added strength and chemistry to the squad, and his dedication to representing the Philippines is commendable. As the national team prepares for the qualifiers, fans can look forward to witnessing Brownlee’s impact on the court once again.
Source: The Manila Times