Despite playing hurt, Justin Brownlee still powered through, leading Mighty Sports Philippines to an emphatic 108-94 win over Oil Sports Iraq in the quarterfinals of the 30th Dubai International Basketball Championship, Friday morning (Manila time).
It was a sweet victory for the Philippine-based club team, as they check off one of the missions set to them by the Wongchuking family – to reach the semifinals.
Meanwhile, standing in Mighty Sports’ way to the grand finale is Al Riyadi. This opponent is a familiar face; the Lebanese club team handed them a 95-100 heartbreaker back on February 22, 2017 in the same tournament. The game takes place on Saturday, February 3 at 12:00mn (Manila time).
The rematch, which was two years in the making, was largely thanks to Justin Brownlee. The 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Best Import – who hurt his left knee two days ago – showed he captains the squad. Brownlee finished with 26 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, and two blocks.
Moreover, he provided the big buckets when Mighty Sports needed it the most.
The Iraqis were able to cut a once-23 point lead down to just six points with less than four minutes remaining. But Brownlee drove hard to the rim, drawing a foul, and knocking down two free throws to stop the bleeding. In the next possession, an excellent Jason Brickman find to a cutting Brownlee restored order. Then a nifty inbound play that led to an easy bucket for the two-time PBA champion served as the game’s dagger.
But it was not just Brownlee who stepped up, as the troika of Juan Gomez de Liano, Jeremiah Gray, and Roosevelt Adams provided the spark for Mighty Sports.
Behind the trio, Mighty Sports was able to build a first-half lead that went to as high as 21 points, and a third quarter cushion that ballooned to 23, 85-62.
Gomez de Liano, the youngest member of the squad, finished with 21 points and three steals to make up for his eight turnovers. Gray added 20 points built on six treys, while Adams chipped in 19 points off the bench.
As a team, Mighty Sports knocked down a whopping 16 triples.
Gluing things together for Mighty Sports were Randolph Morris and Jason Brickman. Morris had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Brickman dished out 10 dimes to go along with six points and four rebounds.
Mario de Mario tried to keep Oil Club afloat by his lonesome, scoring 26 points in 40 minutes of game time. Pashon Taylor and Karrar Hamzah added 20 points each as well.
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.