MIGHTY Sports-Go For Gold Philippines squandered a 15-point second quarter lead but rallied furiously to beat South Korea, 89-82, and inch closer to winning its second title in the Jones Cup Tuesday at the Changhua gym inChanghua, Taiwan.
As expected the Koreans displayed crisp passes and impressive outside shooting but Mighty Sports banked heavily on athleticism and smarts of its five imports to win the much-awaited battle of two undefeated teams in the 9-team tourney.
Mighty Sports was outscored 28-9 in the third and fell behind 70-62 early in the fourth before McKenzie Moore joined forces with Renaldo Balkman, Zach Graham and Hamady Ndiaye in staging a blazing finish.
Four straight charities by Moore practically sealed the win for Mighty which took an 81-73 advantage.
With the win – its fifth straight this year and 13th overall since its 8-0 sweep of the title three years ago – the HealthCube-backed PH representative practically sewn up the championship barring a defeat to host Taiwan A on Saturday.
Mentored by Charles Tiu, Mighty Sports takes a break Wednesday and Thursday before taking on Indonesia on Friday. Its last assignment will be against Taiwan-B on Sunday.
The Koreans, who slipped to 4-1, still have to meet the Japanese on Friday and the Taiwanese on Sunday.
Tiu and even godfathers – Alex Wongchuking of Mighty Sports and Willy Ocier of Go For Gold – refused to celebrate, saying the team’s mission is far from over.
“We still have three more games, so anything can happen,” said Tiu, who credited the team’s unselfish plays for the win.
Mighty Sports had several spurts in the second quarter and its 12-0 splurge which was capped by a triple by Fil-Am Mikey Williams gave them their sizable lead at 37-25 lead.
They padded its lead to 49-36 near the end of the quarter as Roosevelt Adams and Balkman drained back-to-back threes.
MIGHTY SPORTS 89 — Balkman 19, Moore 17, Graham 16, Phelps 14, Gray 7, Ndiaye 6, Williams 5, Adams 3, Brickman 2.
SOUTH KOREA 82 — Ratliffe 24, J.Y. Choi 14, D.S. Lee 11, J.Y. Lee 11, Heo 9, S.H. Lee 5, S.Y. Kim 4, J.K. Kim 4, Song 0.
Quarters: 23-21; 51-38; 60-66; 89-82.