MANILA, Philippines—Justin Brownlee knew one thing for sure about Gilas Pilipinas by the end of the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Riga, Latvia.

While Gilas lost out on a Paris Olympic ticket, Brownlee found a silver lining in the Philippines’ run that came up just a tad bit short.

According to the naturalized player, the Philippines has been making some “good strides” when it comes to the Gilas progrm–a process started under former coach Chot Reyes.

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“Even before this tournament, coach Chot [Reyes] made some good strides to better the program, and now Tim [Cone] has been making great strides, as well,” Brownlee told BasketNews.

“Filipinos take pride in themselves when it comes to basketball, so I think there will be a lot of progress in the future.”

Brownlee’s stint with the Philippines in the OQT was his first ever under the Gilas banner.

The long-time Ginebra import acknowledged Reyes’ coaching run with the Philippines despite not having played under his tutelage.

A Reyes-Brownlee tandem almost came to fruition last year for the Fiba World Cup before the final decision was made to bring over Jordan Clarkson in place of the squad’s naturalized swingman spot.

READ: Tim Cone says Gilas star Justin Brownlee ‘should be in the NBA’

With Reyes at the helm in the global competition, Gilas wound up with only one win over China.

With coach Tim Cone taking over, Brownlee suited up for his longtime coach in the NBA and the duo have reaped some rewards like a drought-ending Asian Games gold medal and a semifinal berth in the Fiba OQT.

While the Filipinos were optimistic heading into Latvia, the 36-year-old admitted that they knew playing against European teams would deal them all sorts of problems.

“We knew it was going to be hard to adjust to the style of play here. They are some top teams in the world. Of course, the European teams shoot the three ball more often,” Brownlee said.

Those problems showed up big time in the Philippines’ semifinal loss at the hands of Brazil, 71-60, on Saturday night (Manila time), effectively kicking them out of the Paris ticket hunt.

“Brazil did a lot of mid-range [shots], inside and outside. It was tough. But still, a lot of credit to our guys and the team; we played hard, we fought hard, and just, unfortunately, we came a little bit short.”

Brownlee tallied 15 points, eight rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block in the Philippines’ last-gasp effort for an Olympic ticket, only to come up short in the end.

Brazil went on to win the lone Fiba OQT berth in Riga, beating home team Latvia in the one-off final.

2024-07-09T09:16:56Z dg43tfdfdgfd