Gilas Pilipinas had three naturalized players to choose from.
Veteran sports journalist Quinito Henson dropped quite a bombshell on One Ph’s Power and Play last Saturday, saying Justin Brownlee was supposed to play in the FIBA World Cup instead of Jordan Clarkson.
Henson told host Noli Eala that Brownlee's bone spurs, and the subsequent surgery to remove them, reportedly became a factor in the decision.
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On Saturday's Power and Play, host Noli Eala asked Barangay Ginebra San Miguel coach Tim Cone to shed light on the matter.
"Let me contest that he would've been the one instead of Jordan. I don't think that was true. Jordan was our target all along," Cone said.
He was the assistant coach for Gilas during the FIBA World Cup and officially took the reins for the 19th Asian Games. He is also Brownlee's longtime coach for Ginebra.
"The only thing that held Jordan back for us was the fact that he couldn't come in as quick as Justin did."
To be clear, Cone is not favoring one naturalized player for another, especially after the Utah Jazz star torched China by scoring 20 of his 34 points in the third quarter.
"I don't want to downplay Jordan. Jordan was absolutely phenomenal in the World Cup as a player, as a teammate. His coachability was off the charts," Cone noted. "He's an NBA player and he still came and enlisted with us."
"No one would forget what Jordan had against China. That was inhuman."
It pretty much worked out for Gilas Pilipinas as Brownlee, along with fellow naturalized player Ange Kouame, powered the Philippines to the gold medal in the Asian Games and ended a 61-year drought.
"The things Justin does, he plays with such a calm. He's a calm influence on everybody. He never gets rattled," Cone shared.
"He has great trust in the game and the system and his teammates. Once you have that, it kinda permeates to everybody. Justin is a special player for this level," he said.