Two years ago, Mighty Sports-Philippines went to the desert of Dubai expecting the unexpected. The Philippine-based club team ended up with just one win.
This time around, and with a much younger squad, Mighty Sports will bring home the bronze after blasting Lebanese club team Homentmen, 91-76, Saturday evening (Manila time) at the Shabab Al Ahli Club in Dubai.
Mighty Sports’ third-place finish is the best for any Philippine team in the 30-year history of the Dubai Invitational Basketball Championship. Other teams that have competed in this prestigious event include the likes of the NLEX Road Warriors and the San Beda Red Lions.
“Overall, I think the stint was a successful campaign,” said Mighty Sports coach Charles Tiu, still sounding satisfied after his wards completed a four-game sweep of the group stage, dominated Oil Sports Club-Iraq in the quarterfinals, and made a spirited fightback that only came up short against Al Riyadi in the Final Four round.
Unlike their 96-81 win over Homentmen during the elimination round, it was all Mighty Sports in the bronze medal match.
Behind the likes of Santi Santillan, Juan Gomez de Liano, and the Fil-Am duo of Jeremiah Gray and Roosevelt Adams, the Philippine-side raced to an eight-point lead entering the break.
Jett Manuel would then heat up in the third canto to give Mighty Sports a double-digit lead. Lamar Odom also scored his first point since the opening game during that span.
“The fact that he can still play basketball, run up and down at his age, that’s already a big achievement for himself and I’m really happy for him,” said Tiu of Odom. “Just the fact that he’s been an inspiration to all of us and be part of his comeback, we wish him the best wherever he may end up. He’s been a good player with a great attitude for us.”
As the Filipinos ran roughshod on them, the Lebanese were called for a couple of technical fouls during the third quarter. The second one resulted in the ejection of Walter Muñoz, who was a DNP in the game.
Manuel, together with Troy Rike, continued to pour it on in the final frame, as Mighty Sports’ lead would go to as high as 21 points.
Manuel, who recently retired from the PBA, scored a team-high 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting.
Team skipper Justin Brownlee and Morris chipped in 11 and 10 markers each; the former also dished out six dimes, while the latter grabbed six boards. Adams had 10 points as well, while Odom finished his campaign with eight points.
Jerar Hadidan, who was averaging just 5.67 points prior to this game, had a game-high 23 points to pace Homentmen. Elias Rustom added 20 markers.
Mighty Sports 91 – Manuel 19, Morris 11, Brownlee 10, Adams 10, Odom 8, De Liano 7, Gray 7, Santillan 6, Rike 6, Gutang 4, Banal 3, Brickman 0.
Homentmen 76 – Hadidan 23, Rustom 20, Estafan 10, Zeinoun 5, Aboud 4, Kilijian 4, Bedikan 3, Ziada 2, Ketenjian 0, Jeyan 0.
Quarterscores: 23-21, 42-34, 67-54, 91-76.
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