Cone expects Brownlee in full force vs Bahrain
BY RICHARD DY
The Manila Times
WITH Gilas Pilipinas going full swing on its training for one final week, interim coach Tim Cone is confident that naturalized player Justin Brownlee will be somewhere between “95 to 98 percent” when the team starts its 19th Asian Games group stage match against Bahrain on September 26 in Hangzhou, China. Cone said it’s just been over a month since the 6-foot-4 Brownlee underwent what he described as a “major surgery” on his ankle to remove bone spurs from three different areas last August. “Justin’s not 100 percent, but he makes time, and continue to go to rehab, and we’re hoping by September 26, he’s about 95 percent to 98 percent or near 100 percent,” Cone said in his recent chat with veteran sports analyst Quinito Henson and Dyan Castillejo in their YouTube Sports Channel Playwright TV. The American mentor said knowing Brownlee, he’s that type of player who would “not want to miss practice or games” despite some aches and pains he feels. “Justin is a gamer. You don’t ever see him miss games or miss practices but he’s willing to play through aches and pains and hurts, that’s why we’re so successful for so long, because he doesn’t miss practice or games,” shared Cone. Cone has in fact, won six of his seven PBA titles with Brownlee in tow as Barangay Ginebra’s import in the pro league. To date, the 65-year-old Cone is the PBA’s all-time winningest head coach in history, and he hopes his partnership with the 35-year-old Brownlee in the Asian Games will spell the same success. At the moment, Gilas is training on closed-door for five days at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna, with Cone hoping to see the players continue to adapt the system. The national squad is slated to face the Meralco Bolts in a scrimmage game on September 19 before winding up their preparation by playing against the Korean club LG Sakers on September 22 at the PhilSports Arena. The game versus the Sakers is open to the public, as mentioned by Cone earlier. As of this writing, forwards Calvin Abueva and Jason Perkins’ status with the national team remain hanging, pending the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas’ appeal to the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee (Hagoc). Abueva and Perkins’ names were not included in the original list submitted by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) to Hagoc just before the deadline for the Entry by Names last July 25. The 35-yearold Abueva, who is making a Gilas comeback since he last played in 2018, along with Perkins, were recruited by Cone himself to take the spot of Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser and Jamie Malonzo, who were both out due to injuries. The Hagoc has set a final Delegation Registration Meeting on Sunday, September 17, the same day that will reveal whether Abueva and Perkins will be given the green light to come in as last-minute entries to Gilas.