By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Justin Brownlee is back.
After a five-month hiatus when he failed his drug test last October 2023 during the Asian Games, the current Gilas Pilipinas naturalized superstar is already cleared to return confirmed last February 3, 2024.
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) revealed the latest development and announced that FIBA issued a Notice of Charge to Brownlee carrying a proposed three-month period of ineligibility about the anti-doping rule violation during the Asian Games.
According to SBP Executive Director Erika Dy, Brownlee’s sanction will be in effect retroactively, which means that the three-month ban already kicked off last November 2023.
The SBP already prepared for the situation ever since Brownlee tested positive and disallowed the small forward from participating in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) as an import.
With the positive news for the national team, Brownlee can now rejoin Gilas Pilipinas and boost their campaign in the first window of the FIBA Asian Qualifiers on February 22, 2024, against Chinese Taipei.
“Having him as our naturalized player alongside some of our locals that he has already played with before will be beneficial to the squad,” said SBP president Al Panlilio.
Brownlee will be reuniting with his Barangay Ginebra San Miguel mentor, coach Tim Cone, who was named as the new chief tactician of the national team, replacing Chot Reyes.
Aside from Cone, Brownlee will also play alongside his teammates at Ginebra, former league MVP Scottie Thompson and the high-flying Jamie Malonzo.
Rounding up Gilas’ magic 12 in the upcoming FIBA first window are Chris Newsome, Calvin Oftana, CJ Perez, June Mar Fajardo, Dwight Ramos, AJ Edu, Carl Tamayo, Kai Sotto, and Kevin Quiambao.