Juan Gomez de Liaño and Thirdy Ravena combined forces to give Mighty Sports-Creative Pacific a third straight win – an 84-66 rout of Tunisia’s ES Rades in the 31st Dubai International Basketball Championship late Monday at the Shabab Al Ahli Club in the United Arab Emirates.
The former collegiate rivals combined for six triples, with Gomez de Liaño of the University of the Philippines posting an impressive 4-of-5 shooting from the 3-point area for 12 points while Ravena, former Ateneo superstar, added 8 points on 2-of-5 shooting from the same area aside from providing the intangibles to help the Mighty Sports-Creative Pacific post its first blowout win after two tough wins.
The PBA hopefuls struck hardest in the third that saw Mighty Sports-Creative Pacific post a 63-54 lead going into the payoff period.
Naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche and World Cup veteran Renaldo Balkman then took charge in the middle of the fourth to finally break the game wide apart to the delight of team owners Alexander Wongchuking and Bong Cuevas and hundreds of wildly-cheering Filipino fans.
“It’s a good win for us,” said coach Charles Tiu who immediately dedicated the win to NBA legend Kobe Bryant who died in a helicopter crash Sunday in LA.
“I’m happier this time because two of our local standouts finally showed what they are capable of,” said Wongchuking.
For the third straight game, the 6-foot-10 Blatche tallied in double-double with 18 points and 13 boards apart from registering five assists while Balkman also finished with 18 points and six boads but turned the ball seven times for the team also backed by Go for Gold, Gatorade and Discovery Primea.
Tiu hopes to use the win as an added motivation when they battle last year’s runner-up Beirut Sports Club for Group B’s top seeding on Tuesday at 9 p.m. (1 a.m. Wednesday PH time).
Though already assured of a quarterfinals berth, Mighty Sports-Creative Pacific needs to prevail over the Lebanese squad to face the No. 4 team in Group A of 11-team tournament.
“We need to sweep our group elims for better chances in the semis,” said Wongchuking.
MIGHTY SPORTS-CREATIVE 84 – Blatche 18, Balkman 18, Kendrick 13, Gomez de Liano 12, Ravena 8, Malonzo 4, Williams 3, Go 3.
ES RADES 66 – Grady 17, Qannouni 13, Dayfallah 9, Elahi 7, Tramesh 6, Alshanoufi 5, Okoroh 4, Buallaq 3, Rudsli 2.
Quarters: 19-18, 41-34, 63-54, 84-66.