Basketball: Blatche, Balkman lead Mighty Sports to historic title in Dubai

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 02 2020 06:26 PM

Basketball: Blatche, Balkman lead Mighty Sports to historic title in Dubai 1
Renaldo Balkman (left) and Mighty Sports came through with a massive third quarter attack on Sunday to dethrone Lebanon's Al Riyadi, 92-81, in the 31st edition of the tournament. Handout

Mighty Sports made history for Philippine hoops when it became the first non-Middle Eastern club to win the Dubai International Basketball Championship.

The Filipino club came through with a massive third quarter attack to dethrone Lebanon's Al Riyadi, 92-81, in the 31st edition of the tournament.

A sizable crowd of Filipino fans watched Mighty's coronation at Shabab Al-Ahli Club in the United Arab Emirates.

Chants of "Mighty! Mighty" reached its highest level when former Ateneo star Thirdy Ravena scored five straight points, capped by a 3-pointer that gave them a 68-51 advantage in the third period.

There was no stopping Mighty Sports-Creative from winning its second straight international tournament from then as Renaldo Balkman, Andray Blatche and US-based Filipino Mikey Willians continued to wreak havoc on the Lebanese club's defense.

Mighty Sports led by 21 points early in the fourth quarter, before completing a seven-game sweep of the tournament.

"It's great," said head coach Charles Tiu, who thanked the fans for giving the team the extra boost it needed against their taller rivals.

"It's a great feeling as we made up for a heartbreaking loss in the semis last year," he added. "This year, it feels nice."

Balkman put up 25 points and nine boards, while Blatche once again tallied a double-double, with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Williams had 13 points and 3 assists.

Ravena finished the game with 6 points, 2 assists, and a rebound in 22 minutes.

The title sweep was Mighty Sports' third since winning the Jones Cup in Taiwan in 2016 and 2019.

"We are overjoyed with the team's latest achievement," said Mighty Sports owner Alexander Wongchuking. "We never thought to win the event much more by a sweep despite the short time of preparation."

"Given another chance, we will continue to compete here or even in Taiwan just to give Filipino migrant workers a different entertainment," he added.

The scores:

Mighty Sports-Creative 92 – Balkman 25, Blatche 21, Williams 13, Moore 11, Kendrick 10, Ravena 6, Malonzo 4, Go 2, Gomez de Liaño 0, Belga 0.

Al Riyadi 81 – Efevberha 26, Jackson 20, Haidar 14, Arakji 10, Bawji 6, Saoud 3, Mneimneh 2, Townes 0, Akl 0, Gyokchyan 0.

Quarters: 24-20, 46-42, 74-57, 92-81.

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