FOR coach Charles Tiu, Mighty Sports' title triumph in the 2020 Dubai International Basketball Tournament wouldn't be possible if not for the dedication shown by Renaldo Balkman and Andray Blatche.
"Andray and Renaldo were great. They led this team. They were true pros," he said, moments after the Philippine team downed Al Riyadi, 92-81, on Sunday (Manila time) to win the crown.
Balkman was at his best through Mighty's seven-game romp, averaging 19.3 points and 7.3 rebounds en route to being named as the MVP.
Meanwhile, Blatche posted 17.6 points, 11.0 boards, and 4.1 assists as he was the rock for the team down low.
Yet for all of their contributions on the court, Tiu lauded the two for their dedication to the team a month before the buildup began.
"It started as early as December for them when they were both signed. They started working out already in Atlanta and then it carried over here," he said, with the two even working out with Kai Sotto at Emory Sports Medicine Complex late last year.
The rest, as they say, just fell into place.
Completing the team with future Gilas Pilipinas standouts and feisty Fil-Am talents, Mighty achieved its goals and became the first non-Middle Eastern team to win the invitational tourney.
"This team is special. We’ve got guys who we will see play for the national team one day and they're just a great group of guys. We're a young team, but we were able to just find a way," said Tiu of the team, which is also backed by Creative Pacific Group, Go for Gold, Oriental Group, Discovery Primea, and Gatorade.
"It’s a great feeling. It's just nice and this is for all the fans who have contributed to support us."