by Rey C. Lachica
Game Friday (Shabab Al Ahli Club)
8 p.m. – Mighty Sports vs Al Riyadi
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – In one explosive stretch, Mighty Sports unloaded four 3-point bombs in a row and accomplished its initial goal in the 30th Dubai International Basketball Championship.
Shrugging off the little pain on his left knee, Justin Brownlee led that mighty charge as Mighty Sports advanced to the semis with a 108-94 drubbing of Oil Sports of Iraq before another good crowd of wildly-cheering Filipino migrants at the Shabab Al Ahli Club here.
Taking the dictum of “no pain, no glory” to the heart, the charismatic Brownlee instead brought his game a notch higher and the rest, especially University of the Philippines guard Juan Gomez de Liano, followed suit.
“Our initial goal is now accomplished but we’ll have a bigger task ahead,” said Mighty Sports coach Charles Tiu, who was pleased his wards followed his instructions to the letter.
Up next for the team co-owned by Alex and Caesar Wongchuking and backed by Go For Gold, SMDC, Oriental Group and Healthcube is a grudge match with Lebanon’s Al Ryadi on Friday.
Brownlee and fellow American imports Randolph Morris and Lamar Odom will have their hands full against a team led by six Lebanese national players.
“It’s going to be one hell of a semis match for us,” said Tiu who is out to avenge the team’s 100-95 defeat to one of Lebanon’s most popular ball clubs.
Mighty Sports is odd team in the semis cast as two other Lebanese teams – Sports Club of Beirut and Homenetmen likewise made it to the next round which is also a knockout affair.
Playing smart to protect a contusion he suffered in the team’s rugged 85-81 win over Al Wahda, Brownlee highlighted his 26-point show with two triples, including the first of four straight triples.
He also sealed the team’s victory – a fifth straight since the elims – with an under goal stab on a perfect feed by Fil-Am Jason Brickman and two more charities, 104-92, with a little over one minute left.
And de Liano?
Oh boy, he was on fire on another cool, breezy night in this lovely capital city.
The 19-year-old de Liano actually set the tone for the team’s convincing win by burying three of his five triples in the first quarter on the way to a second-best 21 points.
In all, Mighty Sports erupted for 16 triples – the most by a team so far – with Jeremiah Gray tossing six and Roosevelt Adams adding three to the delight of their fans.
MIGHTY SPORTS 108 – Brownlee 26, De Liano 21, Gray 20, Adams 19, Morris 16, Brickman 6, Odom 0, Santillan 0, Gutang 0.
OIL SPORTS 94 – De Mario 26, Taylor 20, Hamzah 20, Aldoori 9, Ismael 6, Algburi 3, Alammari 0.
Quarterscores: 29-18, 57-46, 85-66, 108-94.