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Tiebreaker Times
Mighty Sports-Creative Pacific’s Jamie Malonzo sparks a wild celebration from their bench following a monster dunk against Syria’s Al Wathba in the Dubai tournament early Friday. (Courtesy of Patrick Arias Castillo)


Malonzo, Juan GDL, Thirdy lead Mighty Sports to Dubai semis

Mighty Sports-Creative Pacific absolutely dominated Syria’s Al Wathba in the quarterfinals of the 2020 Dubai Basketball International Championship, taking an 88-71 triumph, Friday morning (Manila time) at the Al Ahli Club.

And it was another clinical win for Mighty Sports, who will face Morroco’s AS Salé in the semis.

“I’m happy, of course, but we haven’t accomplished anything yet,” said Charles Tiu about the win of his squad that is backed by Go for Gold, Oriental Group, Discovery Primea, and Gatorade.

Already up 44-31 entering the second half, Thirdy Ravena exploded in the third canto, scoring seven of his 10 points during that frame to keep the Syrians at bay.

Juan Gomez de Liaño and Jamie Malonzo then put on a show, with the former knocking down bombs from deep; meanwhile, the latter kept dunking with ease, much to the delight of the Filipino crowd in attendance. The two combined for 11 of Mighty’s 23 points in the final stanza.

Malonzo had 11 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting clip. Juan had 10 markers, but also tallied six rebounds, an assist, and a steal.

“I’m proud of what they have been doing here. That’s why I’ve been leaving them in, letting them make their mistakes, and let them find their groove,” Tiu said about his young trio.

Mighty Sports would lead by as much as 22 points in the contest, 88-66, with 1:47 left after a Javi Gomez de Liaño triple.

The duo of Andray Blatche and Renaldo Balkman also did their part. The naturalized Filipino finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, two steals, and a block in 29 minutes of action, while the former Alab Pilipinas import added 13 points and eight rebounds in 30 minutes of game time.

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“I wish I could’ve kept Andray and Balkman’s minutes down but it’s tough,” admitted Tiu.

McKenzie Moore, who heated up early, led Mighty Sports with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field.

On the other hand, former Alaska import Chris Daniels paced Al Wathba with 36 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and three steals.

It was a one-man show for the Syrian club, however, as their defense could not hold Mighty Sports down. The Filipinos shot a whopping 57-percent from the field.

Up next for Mighty Sports is AS Salé, who defeated the UAE National Team, 85-80, earlier in the day. The last time these two teams faced off, Mighty Sports lost 83-75 last year.

“Sale is tough. They’re very good and very big. Hopefully, we can upset them,” hopes Tiu.

The Scores:

Mighty Sports 88 — Moore 15, Balkman 13, Blatche 12, Malonzo 11, Ju. Gomez de Liano 10, Ravena 10, Go 5, Kendrick 4, Ildefonso 3, Ja. Gomez de Liano 3, Williams 2, Belga 0.

Al Wathba 71 –– Daniels 36, Alhusain 11, Al Alsati 10, Shaban 5, Correa 5, Cuisnard 4, El-Ayoubi 0, Altarakji 0.

Quarterscores: 22-16, 44-31, 65-50, 88-71.

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