With Mighty Sports still finding its form, it relied on an old Gilas Pilipinas reliable to deliver the goods.
Andray Blatche was a one-man wrecking crew, lifting Mighty Sports to a 77-72 win over Syria’s Al Ittihad in the 2020 Dubai International Basketball Championship, Saturday (Manila time) at the Shabab Al Ahli Club.
The 6-foot-10 naturalized Filipino fired 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field, alongside 11 rebounds, two assists, and a block, in a performance reminiscent of his glory days with the national team.
With his teammates shooting blanks, Blatche took over in the final frame, scoring 10 markers during that span.
His most important bucket came with Al Ittihad cutting the lead down to four, 74-70, with 1:16 left.
Off a Jamil Saddir miss, Blatche grabbed the rebound and took it upon himself to deliver the dagger. With 54 ticks remaining, the former NBA player fired a booming triple to silence the Syrians in attendance.
The win also lifts his side to a 2-0 record in Group A.
Renaldo Balkman was the other bright spot for Mighty Sports, a squad backed Creative Pacific of Bong Cuevas, Go for Gold, Oriental Group, Discovery Primea, and Gatorade. He finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and a block.
Blatche and Balkman combined to shoot 16-of-32 from the field, while the rest of Mighty went just 10-of-30.
A huge second quarter stand by Mighty Sports saw them limit the Syrian club to just nine points against 23 and put them in control. Mighty Sports would lead by as much as 14 points, 61-47, early in the final frame Aubrey Coleman rallied Al Ittihad back.
On the other hand, Coleman had 30 points to pace Al Ittihad. He was the only player in his squad to score in double-figures.
Mighty Sports will have a two-day break before facing ES Rades on Monday at 11:00 pm (Manila time).
Mighty Sports 77 –– Blatche 28, Balkman 15, Moore 9, Malonzo 6, Go 5, Ildefonso 5, Kendrick 4, Belga 3, Ravena 2, Williams 0, Ju. Gomez de Liano 0.
Al Ittihad 72 — Coleman 30, Merjaneh 9, Saddir 8, Cheikh Ali 6, Alhamwi 5, Adribi 4, Saleh 4, Arbasha 4, Jilati 2, Aljabi 0.
Quarterscores: 19-23, 42-32, 59-47, 77-72.