FACING taller Middle-Eastern and African teams, Mighty Sports Philippines is bracing an uphill climb as it opens its 2020 Dubai International Basketball Tournament campaign on Thursday.
Adding to the club's woes is the situation of Andray Blatche's injured left hand.
"Andray’s been hurt," said coach Charles Tiu. "His hand’s been bothering him since he arrived but hopefully we can get him healthy in time cause it’s gonna be a tough tournament for us."
Blatche, who is on a road to redemption in this Mighty run, is expected to attract much of the defense's attention as the naturalized player will be a marked man together with Puerto Rican reinforcement Renaldo Balkman.
They will lead Mighty when it makes its debut against the UAE national team at Shabab al Ahli Sports Club at 11 p.m. (Manila time).
The Syracuse-born big man, however, assured that he'll be up to the task once the ball gets tipped.
"I'll be fine. This injury's nothing. All we want is to win the championship," said Blatche.
Mighty, which is also supported by Creative Pacific of Bong Cuevas, Go for Gold, Oriental Group, Discovery Primea, and Gatorade, will also trot some of the best young stars in Philippine basketball.
Gilas pool members Thirdy Ravena, Isaac Go, Dave Ildefonso, and brothers Juan and Javi Gomez de Liano are expected to see action in the tilt as the Philippine club seeks to improve from their third place finish last year.