WHILE former NBA star Lamar Odom has been doing almost everything to be in tip-top shape, Mighty Sports coach Charles Tiu has expressed apprehension after learning that three top Middle East teams will also compete in the Dubai International Basketball Tournament slated Feb. 1 to 9.
Aside from reigning titlist Coastal Star of Tunisia, Mighty Sports might also face the national team of Jordan as well as Al Riyadi of Lebanon depending on which group it will play in the preliminaries of the 10-team tournament.
Adding to Tiu’s concerns is the fact the team is yet to practice together so it needs to work double time once complete if it wants to contend for the title.
“That’s a big challenge, while other teams have been playing together for a couple of years now we will only have at least seven practice days. I think we need a miracle this time,” said Tiu with a smile.
Team owner Alex Wongchuking echoed Tiu’s observation, saying the team, also sponsored by Healthcube, Go For Gold and Oriental Group, is hard-pressed to mirror its impressive 2016 Jones Cup sweep in Taiwan and a runner-up finish in the Merlion Cup – also on the same year.
“When they will all arrive, they will only have a week of preparation, and that is our biggest concern right now. We can’t rely on talent alone, there must be a good chemistry,” said Wongchuking.
In his Instagram account, Odom vowed to help Mighty Sports capture the championship after the team won only one game in their initial foray in the annual event two years ago.
Tiu and Wongchuking, however, refused to be swayed.
“We really don’t know his condition yet,” said Tiu. “Working out is very different from actual game.”
Beefing up Mighty Sports are Ginebra resident import Justine Brownlee, Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) veteran Randolph Morris, and a pair of exciting Fil-Am recruits.
Other members of the team are former PBA players Jett Manuel and Joseph Yeo, exciting UP playmaker Juan Gomez de Liano, La Salle forward Santi Santillan, and College of St. Benilde’s Justin Gutang.