Dubai, United Arab Emirates—Team Mighty Sports-Philippines salvaged some measure of pride by repeating over reigning Lebanon league titlist Homenetmen, 91-76, on Saturday night to finish third overall in the 30th Dubai International Basketball Championships at the Shabab Al Ahli Club gymnasium here.
Former Ginebra stalwart Jett Manuel saved his best for last with a team-high 19 points, making all of his seven attempts inside as Mighty Sports bounced back from a painful 89-84 loss to fancied Al Riyadi-Lebanon in the knockout semifinal round the other night.
More importantly, the accessories and apparel team backed by SMDC, HealthCube, Go for Gold and Oriental Game closed out its campaign in the prestigious nine-day, 10-team invitational tournament on a strong note, a marked improvement from its woeful one-win showing on its tourney debut in 2017.
“Overall, I think the stint was a successful campaign,” said Mighty Sports coach Charles Tiu, still sounding satisfied after his wards completed a four-game sweep of the group stage, dominated Oil Sports Club-Iraq in the quarterfinals and made a spirited fightback that only came up short against Al Riyadi in the Final Four round.
Big man Randolph Morris finished with 11 points while top gun Justin Brownlee and Roosevelt Adams added 10 points each, but it was former Los Angeles Lakers star Lamar Odom who put on the finishing touches alongside Mighty Sports’ locals in a relatively easy windup.
The 6-foot-10 Odom, cheered on by the sizeable Filipino crowd every time he touched the ball, racked up eight points, five rebounds, two assists and a block. He even nailed a booming triple for a comfortable 83-64 advantage with less than three minutes to play.
“The fact that he can still play basketball, run up and down at his age, that’s already a big achievement for himself and I’m really happy for him,” said Tiu. “Just the fact that he’s been an inspiration to all of us and be part of his comeback, we wish him the best wherever he may end up. He’s been a good player with great attitude for us.”
Jerar Hadidan led all scorers with 23 points while Elias Rustom added 20 points as they tried their best to fill up the scoring shoes left by Walter Hodge, who exploded for 42 points in their 96-89 loss to Mighty Sports back in the group stages.
But Mighty Sports, co-owned by Alex and Caesar Wongchuking, proved they won’t be denied this time. Manuel, Gray, Brownlee and Adams took turns in their decisive breakaway in the third quarter where they built a lead as high of 17 points twice.
Then backup big man Troy Rike joined the fray in the final canto with six quick points—off nifty feeds from Gab Banal—in another 10-0 run for a whopping 77-55 lead with more than six minutes to play.