DUBAI – As Mighty Sports’ game against American University in Dubai dwindled to its final minutes and the result all but decided on Friday night, the pro-Filipino crowd at the Shabab-Al Ahli Club began to chant “Odom! Odom!” while Lamar Odom was still on the floor.
And the NBA veteran gave in to the gallery full of OFWs, commanding the ball at the top of the key and going for isolation plays that blew hot and cold.
Odom showed flashes of his self that won two NBA titles with the LA Lakers in Mighty's 87-58 blowout victory over the college team in their debut in the 30th Dubai International Championship.
But his overall performance has left coach Charles Tiu wanting ahead of the real competition, starting against the United Arab Emirates national team on Saturday night.
“Syempre medyo he was playing along with the crowd also, just having fun, but I like it to be a bit more serious, because he needs to get his rhythm eh,” Tiu admitted after their first game. “Wala pa yung timing niya. But at least we saw some positives from him.”
The 39-year-old beanpole finished with four points on 2-of-10 shooting, missing all his five three-point attempts, but he did grab seven rebounds on top of two assists, and one steal, against only one turnover in a team-high 27 minutes of the floor.
“I thought he rebounded the ball well,” Tiu said. “He made some good plays also, pero wala eh, kita niyo naman na medyo wala pa yung timing and yung feel.”
“I think we have to be patient with Lamar,” he added. “Hopefully after three, four games, we can see a bit more of him. It was okay for his first game, but I expect a bit more.”
How Odom has progressed is set to be known as Mighty takes on the UAE national team in a game that tips off at 7 p.m. (11 p.m., Manila time).
“We don’t know if they’re getting imports. I heard they’re trying to get baka si Tyler Wilkerson,” Tiu said of the UAE team that’s rumored to be tapping the former San Miguel Beer import. “Hindi pa sure, pero they’re trying to get some imports. We’ll see pag dating sa game.”