NEW TAIPEI CITY, Taiwan – NBA veteran Al Thornton delivered the baskets that mattered most as Mighty Sports Apparels outlasted Iran, 80-73, and clinched the William Jones Cup championship on Friday with two games to spare.
Taking a cue from Dewarick Spencer, the high-scoring Thornton scored 12 of his team’s last 16 points, including back-to-back three-point plays that propelled the Philippines-Mighty Sports to the win over the defending champions.
Its sixth straight win was enough to guarantee Mighty the title no matter what happens in its last two games.
Backed by Scratch It and Symarom, Mighty Sports thus became the third Philippine club squad to win a title in this prestigious tournament after Ron Jacobs' Northern Cement team in 1981 and the San Miguel Beer squad in 1985.
Gilas Pilipinas ruled the tournament in 2012 while the Asian Games-bound Philippine Centennial team of Tim Cone lifted the Jones Cup trophy in 1998.
Thorntom, who once scored 69 points for the NLEX Road Warriors in the PBA, finished in double-double with his 24 points and 10 boards.
Though he’s an American, Thornton was honored to represent the country, saying he’s doing so for his Filipino fans.
“It’s very special,” said Thornton who scored a tournament-high 30 points in the team’s 101-81 drubbing of India last Thursday.
“Our mentality is to come out here and have a good showing and gave ourselves a chance of winning the championship,” added Thornton.
The win also proved meaningful for coach Bo Perasol.
“It means so much to the company that we represent the country to win the championship. Playing for six straight games wasn’t really easy for us. It just so happened we had experienced players, talented players. We’re happy we were able to get it done,” said Perasol.
Spencer contributed 21 markers, nine rebounds and five assists for Mighty.
This time, the Filipinos had to labor hard against a rebuilding Iranian team which competed in the tournament minus its “Big Three” in Hamed Haddadi, Samad Nikkah Bahrami and Mahdi Kamrani.
Still, they were persistent, thanks to the hot-shooting Adnan Doraghi.
Doraghi hit six triples on his way to finishing 20 points. He had three treys in the fourth period, including one in the 5:37 mark that shoved his team within striking distance, 64-63.
But that proved to be their last gallant stand as Thornton touched off 10 unanswered points to finally take the fight out of the Iranian side which suffered its third loss in six games.
Mighty Sports 80 – Thornton 24, Spencer 21, N’Diaye 14, Macklin 8, Graham 8, Brickman 3, Singletary 2, Tang 0, Avenido 0, Salvacion 0.
Iran 73 – Doraghi 20, Torabi 14, Dalirzahan 9, Aslani 8, Ojaghi 7, Yousofvand 6, Monji 6, Mozafarivanani 2, Shahrian 1.
Quarters: 20-10, 36-24, 53-52, 80-73.