HASHEEM Thabeet, a center drafted ahead over Golden State star Stephen Curry and Houston’s James Harden during the 2009 NBA Rookie Draft, is arriving on Saturday to beef up Mighty Sports’ campaign in the Dubai International Basketball Championship on February 16-25.
The 7-foot-3 Thabeet, according to Mighty Sports coach Charles Tiu, had requested to come in earlier than the team’s two other imports so he can acclimatize in the country.
“I was excited to hear about that coz it shows how professional he is,” said the former assistant coach of Gilas Pilipinas. “Hopefully we can put him through some individual workouts before we even start team practices.”
A Tanzanian native, Thabeet was picked No. 2 overall by the Memphis Grizzlies while Curry was drafted No. 7 and Harden No. 3 by Oklahoma City.
Thabeet, who played for four NBA teams before finding his way into the D-League the past season, is expected to play a key role in the team being a mean shot blocker.
“He will provide us a huge defensive presence down low and hopefully some inside scoring, too,” added the younger brother of Rain or Shine star Chris Tiu.
Tiu will be assisted by University of the Philippines mentor Bo Perasol.
Mighty Sports’ two other imports – ex-Ginebra import Justin Brownlee and Dominic McGuire – are expected to plane in on Monday in time for the team’s official practice.
“We have seen what Justin can do, he’s a proven scorer and a great all-around player while McGuire is another versatile player,” added Tiu. “Dominic can do a bit of everything.”
Out to provide additional firepower to the team are amateur standouts Jeron Teng, Kiefer Ravena,and Jett Manuel and former two-time PBA MVP Willie Miller.
The Dubai event is considered as one of the toughest tournaments in Asia with top club teams Africa and Middle East expected to compete.