Filipino club Mighty Sports got through a vintage showing by Lebanese legend Fadi El-Khatib to beat host United Arab Emirates 88-82 at the opening of the Dubai International Basketball Championship on Thursday.
El-Khatib, 40, erupted for 30 points at Shabab Al Ahli Club, but US-based Filipino Mikey Williams' efforts keyed the visitors' triumph in a Group B game.
Following a UAE turnover, the 6-foot-1 Williams scored a 3-pointer off an Andray Blatche assist to give Mighty Sports an 82-78 lead with 74 seconds left in the game.
Williams added to his highlight reel with an assist to Renaldo Balkman for a dunk.
The Emiratis made it 84-82, but Williams rose to the occasion by sinking two free throws next, before Thirdy Ravena sealed the win with a layup off a defensive stop.
“It was a huge scare for us but we have to credit Mikey for showing great resolve. Big plays at crunch time,” said Mighty Sports owner Alex Wongchuking.
Mighty Sports coach Charles Tiu added: “I have to be a bit more patient, because this is technically our first game together. But give credit to UAE, they played well, got to the free throw line a lot and El-Khatib is still a great player at his age.”
“Mikey was also great. As I said I have complete trust in him,” Tiu said.
Williams finished with 15 points, while reinforcement Jelan Kendrick led the visitors with 19 points. Blatche and Balkman chipped in 15 points each, while grabbing 11 and 9 rebounds, respectively.
Mighty is out to improve on its third place-finish last year.
MIGHTY SPORTS 88 – Kendrick 19, Blatche 15, Balkman 15, Williams 15, Malonzo 8, Moore 8, Ravena 2, Go 2, Belga 2, Gomez de Liano Ju. 2, Ildefonso 0.
UAE 82 – El-Khatib 30, Alshabebi 27, Ayman 6, Alnuaimi 6, Almaazmi 5, N’Diaye 3, Sultan 0, Alajmanni 0.
Quarters: 22-16, 41-37, 63-65, 88-82.
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