MIGHTY Sports-Philippines faces an acid test right in its debut in the Dubai International Basketball Tournament when it collides with host Al Ahli on Friday at Dubai’s premier sporting club.
After Al Ahli, Mighty Sports tangles with a crack squad from Libya the following day, takes a break on the 19th, collides with a taller and heftier Lebanese squad on Monday, and ends the elims against a rugged Morrocan squad on Tuesday.
Charles Tiu, the youthful coach of Mighty Sports, described their 9 p.m. game with the host squad as critical to their title bid since Al Ahli has been tipped as one of the teams to beat in the annual tournament that gathered some of the best club teams in the region.
Al Ahli is on a roll, having won all its 10 games in UAE’s local tournament.
“Al Ahli is a tough team, No. 1 in their local tournament,” said the former Gilas assistant coach. “They are led by former NBA players in Sam Young and Chiekh Samb. Plus they are the home team so it should be a big challenge.”
While members of Al Ahli side are already familiar with each other, Tiu said his team is yet to practice in full force.
But he’s unperturbed.
“Hopefully, the mix of having some veterans and smart players will help our cohesion,” said Tiu.
And chemistry? Well, that will follow.
“Chemistry is something we are still working on. We will have one complete practice before the tournament,” he added.
Supported by Scratch It and Rain or Shine, Mighty Sports, which leaves for global city early Thursday, will be bannered by NBA veterans Hasheem Thabeet, Dominic McGuire and Justin Brownlee, the same import who helped Ginebra win the PBA Governors' Cup last year.
ROS playmaker Chris Tiu and center Beau Belga banner the local cast with PBA veterans JC Intal, Gary David, Ryan Arana and two-time MVP Willie Millier out to provide additional firepower.
Amateur standouts Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng and Jett Manuel complete the line-up that is out to duplicate its grand sweep of the Jones Cup last year.