Despite solid Mighty lineup, Charles Tiu expects rough sailing in Merlion Cup
Mighty coach Charles Tiu has set the bar high ahead of the Merlion Cup. Jan Ballesteros

EVEN with a formidable roster bannered by three imports, Mighty Sports is bracing for a tough competition in the Merlion Cup which kicks off less than a week from now. 

Head coach Charles Tiu said compared to the team's title run in the Jones Cup in Taipei, Mighty is set to face stronger teams which are also bolstered by foreign reinforcements in the Singapore tournament.

"Hopefully we want to win it all but we have to understand that other teams are also stronger," said Tiu at the end of the team's practice at the West Greenhills Gym on Friday.

"Their advantage is they've been playing together for a long time. They're more familiar with each other."

But Tiu and his team remain unfazed even with a relatively shorter time to prepare, saying they are targeting nothing less than the championship.

That goal seems within reach with the services of prolific imports Al Thornton, Hamady N'Diaye, Dewarick Spencer as well as naturalized player Marcus Douthit - all of whom are hell-bent on helping the team duplicate its gold medal finish in the Jones' Cup a few months ago. 

[See Alolino, Wright, Banals round up crack Mighty lineup for Merlion Cup]

The imports have been meshing very well according to Tiu, and he hopes it translates into victories in the September 21-25 tournament which was last won by AspacTexmaco of Indonesia in 1996.

"It's a bit challenging but it's also why we chose these imports, because we know character-wise they listen to the coaches. They're coachable," he said.

"It's also challenging to manage different egos because these guys are stars in their own right. Mga PBA teams minsan one import lang di na nila ma-handle. So far they've been pretty much everything we've asked them to be." 

Tiu is also relying on his talented local crew led by PBA veteran Joseph Yeo, Kiefer Ravena, Fil-Canadian Matthew Wright, and former National University star Gelo Alolino. 

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"Talent-wise, we're definitely much better especially sa local players. Hopefully we can just compete and if we're lucky enough, win the championship," added Tiu, whose team will leave for Singapore on Tuesday. 

Mighty Sports is grouped with Seoul Samsung Thunders and Wesports Malaysia Dragons. 

Follow the writer on Twitter: @janbballesteros