The Philippines-Mighty Sports bucked a slow first half to reign victorious over Seoul Samsung Thunders in a nip-and-tuck affair, 92-87, to raise the curtains of their Merlion Cup 2016 campaign on a winning note, Wednesday night at the OCBC Arena in Singapore.
Al Thornton carried the load for the Philippine contingent with 31 points. Hamady N’Diaye produced 16, while Jones Cup MVP Dewarick Spencer supplied 15 in the victory. Kiefer Ravena and Matthew Wright each made eight points for the locals.
The Korea-based Thunders zoomed to a 9-3 lead midway into the opening quarter behind their perimeter shooting, but Mighty Sports were quick to adjust and closed by just a point, 17-18, behind Thornton and Spencer with less than three minutes left. Samsung, from the slim lead, stretched their lead with a 10-4 rally led by TJ Moon and Ricardo Ratliffe to own the frame ahead by seven, 28-21.
Mighty Sports played catch-up all through out the next frame. Down by 12 early, 33-21, the Filipinos ran back and closed by six, 37-31, but saw themselves down by double digits once more, 43-33, as their shots from mid-range missed. However, Mighty Sports regained momentum on offense, pulling off an 11-4 run, sparked by Marcus Douthit, to close the half down by just one, 45-44.
Despite a tight affair, Mighty Sports finally took the driver’s seat for the first time in the third chapter. With solid contributions from Thornton, Douthit, and N’Diaye, the Philippines successfully flipped a slim 58-57 lead to a five-point, 64-5 advantage late in the frame. The Thunders were able to punch baskets inside, but the quarter ended in Mighty Sports’ favor, 66-63.
Both squads engaged in a shootout in the game’s final stretch. With the game locked at 80-all, Thornton, Ravena, and N’Diaye joined hands, providing the finishing touches to get rid of the wily Koreans. With their offensive contributions, Mighty Sports outscored the Thunders, 12-7, to eke out a five-point victory, 92-87, in their tournament debut.
Mighty Sports (1-0) will try to post back-to-back wins on Friday as they take on Wesports Malaysia Dragons at 6:30 PM.
Quarterscores: 28-21, 45-44, 66-63, 92-87.
Photo by Kuk Thew