Angelo Wongchuking, Mighty Sports’ point guard and son of team owner Caesar Wongchuking, was asked about the goal of the team come the 41st William Jones Cup. He had a short answer.
“Want nothing less than a championship.”
For the second time in four years, Mighty Sports has been tasked to represent the country in what has become an annual tradition for Filipinos.
Though the squad has only had a few days to practice for the meet that will take place from July 12 to 21 in Taiwan, head coach Charles Tiu is confident that the talent this squad possesses will be enough to bring home the country’s sixth Jones Cup trophy.
“Talent-wise, we are very talented. We have players who are so gifted offensively,” said the youthful tactician. “Secondly, we have a very smart team and have played [at] a high-level. We can also do a lot of things defensively.
“This is arguably the best team we have fielded.”
Composing the squad are Mikey Williams, McKenzie Moore, Roosevelt Adams, Jeremiah Gray, Hamady N’Diaye, Aaron Black, Renaldo Balkman, Eugene Phelps, Zach Graham, Jason Brickman, Gab Banal, and Wongchuking.
Standing in their way are seven national teams, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Japan, South Korea, and two Chinese-Taipei squads, and a school-based team in the University of British Columbia.
Out of the eight squads they are facing, four are bound for the 2019 FIBA World Cup. And they are the first four teams that Mighty Sports will face in the pocket tournament.
“It’s tough to play against Iran. First four games, we have a very difficult schedule because four games — Iran, Jordan, Korea and Japan — it’s very tough in the beginning and we are still not ready,” said lead assistant coach Rajko Toroman. “It was better to play a little bit easier teams in the beginning and then in the end to play them, but that’s the schedule.
“We have to respect that.”
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is confident that, just as what Mighty Sports has done in tournaments like the Dubai International Basketball Championship, the Merlion Cup, and the Jones Cup itself, they will represent the country well.
“I think Mighty Sports has always built a team that will win. I’m confident that they’ve thought this out well with their coaching staff. I think they are always there to play hard and win,” said SBP president Al Panlilio.
“Their really playing to win it all all the time.”