MANILA, Philippines – After weeks of anticipation, Mighty Sports Philippines will finally suit up for action in the 31st Dubai International Basketball Championship on Thursday, January 23 against the United Arab Emirates national team.
Despite the sudden departure of 7-foot-2 NBA prospect Kai Sotto mere days before the tournament kicked off, the Charles Tiu-coached squad is still filled to the brim with talent – rising stars and grizzled veterans alike.
Beefing up Mighty’s frontlines are former NBA veterans Andray Blatche and Renaldo Balkman, PBA bruiser Beau Belga, high-flying Fil-Am Jamie Malonzo, PBA Rookie Draft 1st overall pick Isaac Go and developing sharpshooter Javi Gomez de Liaño.
The rest of the squad seemingly has no holes either as young stars such as Thirdy Ravena, Dave Ildefonso, Mikey Williams, Juan Gomez de Liaño and import Jelan Kendrick lead the wing and guard spots.
Veterans Gab Banal and Joseph Yeo are also there to provide valuable leadership in the second unit, which includes Jarrell Lim and Joaqui Manuel to round out the squad.
Game time is 7 pm in Dubai (11 pm, Philippine time).
The Philippine bets’ level of talent should be able to match up very well against a feisty UAE national team, the 121st-ranked team in the world. Not to mention that Mighty will have the full force of excited OFW fans on their side, essentially turning UAE’s home court advantage against them.
Coach Tiu and lead assistant Ty Tang will have their hands full figuring out how their stockpiled talent will play as one cohesive unit against a UAE side already familiar with one another for years.
Will Mighty’s talent be too much for UAE or will the tournament hosts give the Philippine team a rude welcome?
Follow Rappler’s live updates here.