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Mighty Sports weathers AS Sales, advances to Dubai title game

Mighty Sports made history once again.

Behind Renaldo Balkman, Mighty Sports scored 80-76 wire-to-wire triumph over Moroccan powerhouse AS Sales, Friday (Manila time) at the Shabab Al Ahli Club.

This is the first time a Philippine-based club team has advanced to the championship round of the invitational.

Still, the squad needed to survive an endgame flurry by AS Sale.

Up by 12, 78-66, with 3:20 left, Abderrahim Najah took over, scoring eight points in a 10-2 run to cut the lead down to four with 1:36 remaining.

Fortunately for Mighty Sports, AS Sale could not convert afterward. The Moroccan squad could not take advantage of an Andray Blatche turnover, as Wayne Arnold missed a triple. Later on, Najah missed a layup that spelled the doom for the former champs of this tournament.

Renaldo Balkman was not to be denied in the contest, finishing with 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting to go along with five boards. The former ABL Defensive Player of the Year also helped limit AS Sale ace Radhouane Slimane to just 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting.

Blatche added 17 points, 11 rebounds, and eight dimes.

With the two clicking, Mighty Sports raced to an 18-7 start. Blatche gave his side a 35-21 lead midway through the second stanza.

Mikey Williams and Jamie Malonzo kept AS Sale at bay during the third canto. Williams finished with 12 points, while Thirdy Ravena and Malonzo had seven and six points, respectively.

Mighty Sports is backed by Creative Pacific of Bong Cuevas, Go for Gold, Oriental Group, Gatorade and Discovery Primea

#ReadMore  Thirdy Ravena says career 'won't be fulfilling' if he doesn't play in PBA

On the other hand, Najah and Soufiane Kourdou paced AS Sale with 20 points each, with the former also grabbing 10 boards.

EDIT: Mighty Sports will face Al Riyadi on Saturday, February 1, at 11:55pm (Manila time) for the Final.


The Scores:

Mighty Sports 80 — Balkman 29, Blatche 17, Williams 12, Ravena 7, Malonzo 6, Kendrick 5, Moore 6, Go 0, Ju. Gomez de Liano 0, Belga 0.

AS Sale 76 — Kourdou 20, Najah 20, Slimane 14, Arnold 11, Elmasbahi 6, Almahini 5.

Quarterscores: 25-15, 44-34, 66-55, 80-76.

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