October 16 ------ JUSTIN Brownlee, in all likelihood, will play for Barangay Ginebra if the import-reinforced second conference of the 2021 PBA season pushes through. The Gin Kings said in May that Brownlee is on call if ever a reinforced conference is played this year, and the status hasn’t changed. “The plan is for Justin to return,” said Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone on Monday. “He is ready to come over anytime.” The PBA is already planning to stage an import-laced conference beginning in mid-November, a first for the league during the pandemic. It is also setting a 6-foot-6 height limit.
Before the second conference the league needs to get clearance from the local government that will host the tournament, having already secured a go-signal from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) in July to play games in a general community quarantine (GCQ) area. Brownlee is, of course, a familiar face for the Gin Kings, having guided the team to four titles including the 2019 Governors’ Cup, the last time the PBA held an import conference before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
Ginebra is now aching to return to training after a disappointing campaign in the Philippine Cup in which the Gin Kings were eliminated during the quarterfinals by top-seed TNT. Prior to that, Ginebra ended up with a 4-7 win-loss card and needed to win a playoff against Phoenix Super LPG just to reach the playoffs as the eighth seed. “We’re just waiting for league approval to start practicing again,” said Cone.