Brownlee’s clutch performance stuns China, helps Gilas advance to finals

Justin Brownlee formalized his legendary status in the Asian Games after an impressive performance against China (Philippine Olympic Committee via One Sports Facebook)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The world just witnessed one of the most legendary personal scoring displays in the history of the Asian Games basketball tournament.

Down by seven points with only 1:36 remaining in the crucial semifinal game, the Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball team looked dead in the water and was on the verge of crumbling against the tough Chinese squad last October 4, 2023.

However, there was one man who didn’t give up and believed they could win until the final buzzer sounded.

That man was Justin Brownlee.

Facing a tough environment in front of a hostile pro-Chinese crowd in Hangzhou, Brownlee gave flashbacks of what Tracy McGrady did to the San Antonio Spurs when he uncorked 13 points in just 33 seconds to give the Houston Rockets the crazy win.

Brownlee carried the whole national team on his back and unleashed eight straight points in 67 seconds which shocked the whole Chinese squad to put Gilas back up by a point after trailing 69-76.

The naturalized Filipino swingman kicked off his jaw-dropping offensive show after burying a one-handed floater in the middle of the lane to cut China’s lead to five points, 71-76.

After a defensive stop on the other end, Brownlee converted a difficult step-back three-pointer from the right elbow that turned the game into a two-point affair, 74-76.

As Brownlee brought the ball down with only 33 seconds left, the current resident import of the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel didn’t hesitate for a heat check and buried the money shot that gave Gilas the 77-76 lead, leaving the whole Chinese crowd in disbelief of what he just did.

With only 11 seconds left, China had the chance to retake the lead after moving the ball well which left their forward wide-open for a pull-up perimeter jump shot but the attempt didn’t go in.

After the miss, CJ Perez grabbed the rebound, gave the ball to Brownlee, and started to celebrate when the final buzzer sounded.

What a game. It was a difficult start for the Filipinos after getting stabbed in the chest by the home bets when they trailed by as much as 20 points in the first half.

However, the never-say-die mentality of the national team prevailed in the third quarter when they put up a scoring run to trim their deficit to just 12 points.

Magic Brownlee then happened in the final frame as his stellar shooting clinic led Gilas to one of their biggest comebacks in the history of their program.

Also stepping up for Gilas in the final period was Kevin Alas after playing valuable minutes, scoring five important points in that insane stretch.

Brownlee finished his legendary game with 33 points with 17 of those all coming in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Scottie Thompson chipped in 13 points while June Mar Fajardo and Perez combined for 16 markers.

With the huge win, Gilas will have a shot at redemption against Jordan, the only team that beat them in the Asian Games so far as they meet again for the gold medal match.