by Rey C. Lachica
Game Tuesday (Shabab Al Ahli Club)
9 p.m. – Mighty Sports vs Al-Wahda (Syria)
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Emboldened by its vengeful win over the Lebanese champion club on Sunday, Mighty Sports goes for a sweep of its group elims when it faces Al-Wahda of Syria on Tuesday (Wednesday, Manila time) in the 30th Dubai International Basketball Championship at the Shabab Al Ahli Club here.
After easy victories over American University in Dubai (87-58) and host country (86-78), Mighty Sports was challenged by Homenetmen to the very end but got clutch baskets from Ginebra resident import Justin Brownlee and three-time Chinese league champion Randolph Morris to prevail, 96-89.
Coach Charles Tiu, younger brother of retired Rain or Shine star Chris Tiu, hopes to use that win as another source of inspiration in their 9 p.m. (1 a.m. Wednesday, Manila time) clash with the Syrians who boast with a 7-foot-4 reinforcement.
“Better prepare guys, Al-Wahda also has three imports, one looks like a 7-foot-4,” said Tiu moments after nailing their third win in the annual tournament that gathered some of the toughest teams in the Middle East.
Aside from Brownlee and the 6-foot-10 Morris, Tiu hopes to get significant numbers this time from former LA Lakers star Lamar Odom who was held scoreless in the team’s last two outings. He scored only four points in the team’s win over AUD on 2-of-10 shooting.
Tiu sees another exciting finish as the Syrian club is likewise determined to extend its winning streak to three games.
In a text message to Tiu, co-team owner Alex Wongchuking congratulated his wards for booking a spot in the quarters but challenged them not to lower their guards.
“While we have already surpassed our one-win showing two years, our mission is far from over. So stay focused guys,” said Wongchuking, who co-owned the team with younger brother and long-time basketball patron Caesar.
Reaching the semis stage, the older Wongchuking said, would help the team put the ghost of 2017 to rest.
The team backed by Go For Gold, Oriental Group, Healthcube, and SMDC needs to bring its game to another level since another win will also give the team a load of energy in time for the knockout quarterfinal phase of the tournament.
Already assured of finishing either as No. 1 or No. 2 in its group, Mighty Sports may face Jordan national team or Sale of Morocco in the quarters.
After a sumptuous lunch hosted by PH Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes, the team used the Monday break to roam around this ultra-modern Metropolis.