Charles Tiu admits gigil a factor but offers no excuses as Mighty comeback falls short in debut
Mighty Sports coach Charles Tiu was pleased to see his wards bounce back from a slow start even as their comeback bid fell short. Jaime Campos

MIGHTY Sports-Philippines opened its campaign on the wrong foot as it absorbed a stinging 83-75 loss to Sale of Morocco at the start of the 28th Dubai International Basketball Championship on Friday at the Ah Ahly gym here.

“The gigil factor was there, not to mention that we are still in the process of adjustment, including our body clock. But I don’t want to use that as our excuse,” said coach Charles Tiu. “They made the big shots late in the game and we didn’t.”

For a while, Mighty Sports looked headed for a big come-from-behind victory when naturalized Marcus Douthit hit two charities that put Mighty Sports back on top, 67-66.

But it proved to be the last gallant stand of Mighty Sports as Sale’s import Brandon Freeman buried back-to-back triples and Zakaria Elmashabi added one in a whirlwind finish to jumpstart their own title bid.

Freeman finished with 28 points as he got the better of his shootout with Mighty’s Justin Brownlee.

[See Mighty Sports ambushed in Dubai debut]

Brownlee led Mighty Sports with 27 points but the 7-foot-3 Hasheem Thabeet produced only five points and four boards. Domenic McGuire also struggled with 9 points on 3-of-11 shooting.

Mighty Sports started poorly and trailed most of the way until Brownlee combined with Thabeet and Kiefer Ravena in a 9-2 run to open the payoff period for 60-57 lead.

But the 6-foot-2 Freeman came to Sale’s rescue, coming through with clutch baskets to douse cold water on Mighty Sports’ rally.

Ravena had 11 points, four assists and a rebound in 26 minutes of action but Jeron Teng was held scoreless after missing all his four attempts.

Also getting off to hot starts in the seven-team tournament were Al Riyade, which dumped Egypt, 85-69, and Sagese, which downed Ball Above All, 98-72.

The scores:

Sale 83 – Freeman 28, Najah 13, Kourdo 11, Elmasbahi 11, Zouita 8, Choua 6, Almuheisny 6, Stowbrifge 0, El Madini 0.

Mighty Sports 75 –Brownlee 27, Ravena 11, McGuire 9, Douhit 8, David 8, Intal 7, Thabeet 5, Miller 0, Tiu 0, Arana 0, Teng 0.

Quarters: 15-7, 30-25, 55-51, 83-75.

Games today

(Al Ahli gym)

5 p.m. – Ball Above All vs Homenetmen

7 p.m. – Al Riyade vs Sale

9 p.m. – Mighty Sports vs Sagese

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