Justine Juyad

Home sweet home.

Newly-naturalized Filipino Justin Brownlee made his debut with Gilas Pilipinas as the team got a dominant revenge against Lebanon, 107-96, in the final window of FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers at their homecourt, Philippine arena, on Friday.

Photo Courtesy of The Manila Times

The resident Barangay Ginebra import impressed the Filipino crowd in his first stint in Gilas jersey, leading the team with 17 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and two steals.

“I got so much joy playing in the Philippines and playing in front of these fans,” said Brownlee after his much anticipated debut.

The 3-time PBA best import played a huge role in their bounced back win after the Clarkson-led Gilas suffered a hard-fought loss in the fourth window when they visited Lebanon.

After a not-so-good three-point shooting throughout the qualifiers, Gilas men lit up the torch as they knocked down 17 from beyond the arc to overwhelm the visiting team and grab their 6th win in the qualifiers, with 3 loses.

JB's fellow Gin King, Jamie Malonzo, shone in the win as he delivered 15 markers, 5 boards, 3 dimes, and 2 blocks, off the bench.

Another first timer in Gilas men, Mason Amos made an impressive debut scoring 13 points with 3 three pointers and perfect 5/5 shooting from the field. 

The 34-year old naturalized Filipino got the gist early on as he buried his first two buckets in from the rainbow country while Malonzo scored five straight points to help Gilas gain a 6-point lead after first canto, 25-19. 

The Philippines started to dominate as Japan BLeague topguns; Jordan Heading, Bobby Parks Jr., and Kiefer Ravena delivered the first 13 points for Gilas in the second quarter, stretching the lead to 14.

Gilas continued to dominate in the second half as the 18-year old Fil-Aussie provided spark off the bench, collecting 11 points in his first 5 minutes on the floor to extend their lead to 18 before the final quarter, 82-64.

Despite an already secured World Cup ticket, the Gilas men managed to get things done against the FIBA Asia Cup runners up after protecting their momentum until the final buzzer.

On the other hand, Amir Saoudand and Hayk Gyokchyan played huge for Lebanon finishing with 27 and 21 points, respectively. However, their stellar performances failed to carry the top-seeded team as it fell to a 7-2 record.

Gilas Pilipinas will wrap up their Asia Cup qualifiers campaign against Jordan at the Philippine Arena on Monday night.

Diana Mae Salonoy