MANILA – Mighty Sports-Philippines proved to be the steadier team down the stretch as they cruised to an 88-82 victory over the United Arab Emirates (UAE) national basketball team in their opening match of the 31st Dubai International Basketball Championship on Jan.23 at the Shabab Al Ahli Club in Dubai, UAE.
With the both spirited teams tied at 78-all, Andray Blatche gave Philippines the lead with a split free throw before widening the gap to 84-78 via a triple by Mikey Williams and a layup by Renaldo Balkman.
However, the Emiratis were able to answer with a split free throw from Fadi El Khatib that brought them within 82-84 with under a minute left remaining, but free throws from Williams and a layup by Ferdinand “Thirdy” Ravena III iced the win for the Philippines.
Jelan Kendrick bannered the victors with 19 points, while Williams, Blatche and Balkman contributed 15 markers apiece for Mighty Sports, which are hoping to improve from their last year’s third-place finish.
Might Sports-Philippines set the game flow early with a strong 11- 2 start behind Blatche, Jamie Malonzo and Williams, but UAE’s game tenacity kept them close at the end of the second period, 37- 41.
The Emiratis negated the strong third outing start from the Philippines as they established a 58-53 advantage, but Blatche and Balkman’s efforts brought Philippines to a 78-all deadlock.
El Khatib was a scoring machine in the game with 30 points, while his fellow Qais Alshabebi added 27 more for the losing UAE team./PN