Tim Cone is bracing for a tight and challenging week starting Sunday when Barangay Ginebra clashes with perennial title contender Alaska in the main game of the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The American mentor admitted things didn’t look rosy for the Kings who opened the conference without starting slotman Greg Slaughter due to an ankle injury.
Worse, the Kings lost comebacking import Paul Harris to a fractured right thumb during their 93-81 win over the GlobalPort Batang Pier last week in their conference opening game.
“We’re heartbroken that we’ve lost Paul Harris. He appeared to be perfect fit. Sayang,” said Cone in a regretful tone.
Replacing the high-scoring Harris is NBA D-League veteran Justin Brownlee, who is fresh off a stint with Chalon in the French league, where he posted decent numbers of 11.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 36 games.
Browlee went undrafted in 2011, but managed to managed to hone his craft in the NBA D-League where he played for the maine Red Claws in 2012, before toiling with the Erie Bawhawks in 2014.
He owned career averages of 10.81 points, 5.30 rebounds and 1.86 assists in 96 NBA D-League games.
The 25-year-old American forward is expected to do a lot for Ginebra, which is raring to redeem itself after back-to-back failed title bids this season under Cone.
“We’ve got three games this week starting with Alaska so that doesn’t give us a lot of time to break in our new import Justin Brownlee,” shared the league’s multi-titled PBA mentor.
Nonetheless, Cone expects his crew led by playmaker LA Tenorio, forwards Japeth Aguilar and Joe Devance, along with veteran Mark Caguioa to play their respective roles in the hope of beating an eager Aces quintet.
“We have faced a lot of adversity so far this conference and it’s just started,” he said. “But we will embrace the challenges and keep moving forward.”
Alaska, which opened the conference with a 100-96 loss to Meralco, will finally have energetic forward Calvin Abueva back in the fold.
Coach Alex Compton opted to rest the “Beast” after a non-stop basketball campaign, capped by his Europe training camp with Gilas Pilipinas, before being cut from the final 12. – Richard Dy
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