SPORTS KEN: JB – A rare gem

Non pareil.

This is how I personally acknowledge the attributes of Justin Brownlee as his naturalization as a Filipino is just days away from being enacted in Congress.

Non pareil is a French word meaning “ having no equal” or “incomparable” as a synonym.

Back in the 70s, I saw the first American NBAers (and non-NBAers) who wowed Pinoy basketball fans when the PBA introduced the Reinforced Conference as a “foreign spiced” tournament separate and distinct from the All-Filipino.

I don’t remember all their names now but there were standouts and lemons among them.

Of course, Billy Ray Bates, Cyrus Mann, Andy Fields, Glen McDonald, Norman Black were outstanding.

Something within told me that JB is a different breed. His court demeanor is genuinely professional inside out.

Not because he wears the Ginebra jersey that millions of fans adore him. He is lionized because he dribbles, shoots, rebounds and defends exceedingly well against any opponent.

In short, his coach relies on him to win everytime he is on the court.

JB fully understands his role.

I don’t want to bad mouth nor to put in a bad light the previous naturalized foreign players who wore the national uniform.

Judging from their performance in the FIBA organized tournaments, I can say that they were found wanting in some respects.

JB is almost like a natural-born Pinoy. The guy is humble in his speech and displays no braggadocio in his character.

He simply does what he has to do.

Exactly what we need in Gilas as the country prepares as one of three hosts to stage the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

Reports say JB has passed the naturalization process, impressing Congress legislators of his genuine desire to become a Filipino citizen and excellently prepared – mentally and physically – to don the national colors.

What about Jordan Clarkson, a Utah guard standout onced adjudged as “Sixth Man of the Year?”

Well, it is for Gilas executives and coaches to judge.

What I heard is that JB will be tested come February in the sixth window against Lebanon and Jordan.

Should he sparkle and lead Gilas to victory would mean that JB could give Gilas management a difficult time to choose between him and JC.

JB is already at home with local PBA stars he plays with and against. He does not need anymore “lectures” that otherwise JC needs to familiarize himself with.

This was evident when Gilas fought Jordan the first time and they lost. Gilas’ plays were tentative for lack of adequate practice time.

Ginebra mentor Tim Cone, a Gilas deputy, welcomes JB’s entry and is confident his import will deliver come crunch time.

I recall that I have included JB as one of my twelve choices for Gilas in my previous columns.

Hope springs eternal. (Email feedback to GOD BLESS THE PHILIPPINES!








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