As expected, the Lebanese teams are emerging as the top threat to Strong Group’s bid to bring the title back to Philippine shores in the 32nd Dubai International Basketball Championship in Dubai, UAE.
So far, Strong Group, owned by Frank and Jacob Lao, has already clinched a quarterfinals seat along with three other Lebanese teams namely the Al Riyadi, Sports Club Beirut and Dynamo.
“All teams very tough,” said coach Charles Tiu.
Among the three, Dynamo seemed to be the better offensive team averaging 99.6 points through three games on an average winning margin of 23 points.
Dynamo is currently the No. 1 club team in Lebanon because of its explosive imports in Ibrahima Thomas and Cleanthony Early.
Al Riyadi is no pushover as it bannered by Lebanon national team members Wael Arakji, Amir Saoud, Hayk Gyokchan and import and former NBA second round draft pick AJ Majok.
Even Sale of Morocco, the tail-ender in Group B, is another cause of concern for the team backed by Mighty Sports and Acrocity.
“Morocco is super big,” added Tiu,
Good thing, the Philippine representatives is playing Dynamo in its last game in the elimination which means they would not be facing in the knockout stage until the semifinals at least.
The game though will certainly give Strong Group an idea how it would fare against the other Lebanese squads with former NBA player Nick Young nursing a knee injury.
“It’s game time decision,” said Tiu.
Arakji, a familiar face for Filipinos after he towed Lebanon past a Jordan Clarkson-led Gilas Pilipinas in the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers, has been averaging 16.5 points per game while Majok has been norming 16 points and 14 rebounds per outing.
Sports Club Beirut is also a formidable squad with Gerard Hadidan and Kenneth Hays forming a deadly one-two punch for the team.