DUBAI – Mighty Sports passed its first real test in Homenetmen, hammering out a 96-89 victory to stay unbeaten in the Dubai International Championship late Sunday night (Monday, Manila time) at the Shabab Al Ahli Club.
Encountering token resistance from its first two opponents, the Philippine representative found a better match in the Lebanese League defending champion that refused to quit down the stretch before Mighty hacked out its third straight win.
Imports Justin Brownlee and Randolph Morris delivered as usual, but Jeremiah Gray provided an extra offensive punch, while Jason Brickman ran the offense with aplomb that spelled the biggest difference in the tight game for the Philippine squad to the delight of the OFWs that trooped the venue.
“We’re a young team in a sense na we haven’t been together for so long, but I like the composure they showed,” Mighty coach Charles Tiu said. “That’s why at stretches, even when they made runs, I just let them play.”
“I want them to grow up while playing in this game, because later in the tournament, we’re gonna face games like this, so we have to know how to win in these types of situations, so this was a good test for us,” he added.
Mighty spoiled the 42-point explosion of Lebanese League MVP Walter Hodge, who looked unstoppable for Homenetmen, but found little help from his teammates.
Unlike the one-man Homenetmen show, Mighty had a more balanced attack that saw the imports leading the way, and Gray and Brickman proving to be the x-factors.
Gray finished with a team-high-tying 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting, including three triples, along with eight rebounds, and three assists in 32 minutes, while Brickman showed his exceptional decision-making as he knew when to pass or shoot, tallying 10 points and five assists, not to mention other nice passes that weren’t credited.
Morris continued to flash his dependable midrange jumper and his inside presence as he registered 24 points and missed a double-double by just one rebound, on top of four assists, and two steals in almost 34 minutes of play.
Brownlee completed a double-double of 19 points and 13 boards while adding seven assists, and two steals in almost 34 minutes. The resident Barangay Ginebra import iced the game with four straight free-throws after the Lebanese squad came closest at 92-89 from a deficit as many as 16 points midway through the third quarter.
Mighty Sports, owned by Alex and Caesar Wongchuking, and backed by SMDC, Go For Gold, Oriental Group, and Healthcube, takes a break on Monday before finishing off its group stage assignments against Syria a day later.
MIGHTY 96 – Morris 24, Gray 24, Brownlee 19, Gomez de Liaño 11, Brickman 10, Adams 8, Odom 0, Manuel 0, Gutang 0, Santillan 0, Banal 0, Yeo 0, Rike 0, Wongchuking 0
HOMENETMEN 89 – Hodge 42, Rustom 11, Edevbesha 11, Johnson 10, Aboud 8, Ziada 5, Hadidan 2, Zeinoun 0, Estafan 0, Ketenjian 0
Quarterscores: 25-18, 51-44, 77-63, 96-89