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'Blows our mind' : Cone, Gin Kings caught off-guard by Brownlee doping news

MANILA, Philippines -- Barangay Ginebra head coach Tim Cone on Friday night admitted that they were surprised by the move of the International Testing Agency (ITA) to flag Justin Brownlee due to prohibited substances.

In an interview aired over CNN Philippines’ Sports Desk, Cone said the news “blew their minds” when they heard it.

“I don’t know where it could have happened. It wasn’t a PED, it wasn’t a steroid that affected his performance. And I don’t know… there’s no way he could bring that kind of stuff into the country, China, he’s gotta get in trouble trying to do that,” Cone said in the interview.

“The only way we can think of is, it happened way before he left for China. It kinda blows our mind,” he added.

Cone coached his longtime Ginebra import Brownlee and the rest of Gilas Pilipinas in the Hangzhou Asian Games.

The team won its first gold medal in 61 years.

Despite this, Cone said what's done is done.

“It’s there, it’s done. Justin was shocked by it as well, but it’s there. It’s done, we can’t bring it back,” the coach said.

Brownlee was the hero in Gilas' come-from-behind win over host China, hitting timely shots, including the game-winner, to bring the Philippines to the gold-medal match against Jordan.

A few days after the gold medal finish, news broke that the ITA flagged Brownlee after his urine sample tested positive for carboxy-THC, a banned substance that is linked to cannabis use.

Cone also reiterated that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and the San Miguel Group are giving Brownlee the support to possibly shorten or remove the suspension.

Meanwhile, a decision on Browlee's suspension may be out by next week, Cone said.

“I heard that there might be a decision by Tuesday or Wednesday next week. But I’m not nearly 100% sure about that,” the multi-titled PBA coach said.

Amid the uncertainty, the team tapped former Meralco Bolts import Tony Bishop as a temporary replacement for Brownlee.