Getting imports in town and in shape has not been easy, making it difficult for the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) to peg an opening date for the season-ending Governors’ Cup.
As if to underscore that problem, defending champion Barangay Ginebra is still waiting on Justin Brownlee, the well-loved import who still needs to complete his papers.
Team manager Rayboy Rodriguez said the four-time Kings reinforcement is still working on his documentary requirements ahead of his planned stint with the crowd darlings.
“Justin will fly in once he gets his visa,” Rodriguez told the Inquirer on Friday.
At least one thing is going right for the league as its inaugural 3×3 tournament tips off today with all participating teams seeing action, according to a PBA statement released to media outlets on Friday.
The tournament is doing away with the usual opening ceremony as the 17-game schedule for the day kicks off with the Purefoods TJ Titans battling highly-touted Fil-Am Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser and the Limitless Appmasters in Pool A.
Seeing action in the three-a-side event isn’t the only reason Ganuelas-Rosser is smiling nowadays. He’s also happy that the eligibility rules for Filipinos born or raised abroad have been relaxed.
“I’m really happy. It was something that I think should have been done a long time ago, but I’m glad that it was done now,” said Ganuelas-Rosser, the younger brother of five-time champion Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, during the PBA 3×3 Media Day.
Ganuelas-Rosser was axed from the list of potential draftees earlier this year as he was unable to procure the proper documents from the Department of Justice that the league requires from mixed-lineage Filipinos who want to enter the draft.
“I’m happy that the rule was changed, not just for myself but for Fil-foreign players who want to join the PBA,” added Ganuelas-Rosser, who will banner Limitless Appmasters along with Mike Gamboa, Jorey Napoles and Reymar Caduyac. The team is Phoenix’s affiliate team in the 3×3 circuit.
“I’ve been a fan of the PBA for so long now, just watching my brother. To finally get my feet wet, I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
The Gin Kings have been training hard for their title-retention bid for about four weeks now, even with Brownlee still absent.
Head coach Tim Cone has yet to respond to the Inquirer’s request for comment as of press time.
Brownlee will be rejoining a new-look Ginebra squad this time out, as he is set to pair with high-IQ and high-motor big man Christian Standhardinger.
The 33-year-old American is also set to team up with Sidney Onwubere, who was acquired in a swap with NorthPort earlier this month.
Brownlee helped the Kings to four PBA crowns—three of which came in the Governors’ Cup, including the last championship series prior to the pandemic.
He averaged 31.4 points and 13.1 boards, 5.8 assists and 2.7. steals in his last stint with Barangay Ginebra, finishing second in the Best Import race behind Meralco’s Allen Durham.
League chief Willie Marcial told the Inquirer as early as Sunday that the PBA will wait for all 12 reinforcements to arrive before taking the lid off the Governors’ Cup. Only KJ McDaniels, Olu Ashaolu, Brandon Brown, along with newcomers Antonio Hester (Terrafirma) and Cameron Forte (NorthPort) have planed in so far, virtually scrubbing off the original opening date of Nov. 28.
Aside from documentary paperwork, imports are also required to undergo a five-day quarantine. Marcial said he hopes to give teams and their reinforcements around eight to 10 days worth of training before opening the Governors’ Cup.
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