Mighty catches fire in 1st half, survives Syria for 2nd Dubai win

JR Isaga
Mighty catches fire in 1st half, survives Syria for 2nd Dubai win
Propped up by Andray Blatche and Renaldo Balkman, Mighty Sports Philippines outlasts Syria for a 2-0 start in Dubai


MANILA, Philippines – Mighty Sports Philippines kept it rolling in the 31st Dubai International Basketball Championship with a 77-72 win over Al Ittihad Syria on Saturday, January 25.

With the win, the Philippine team rose to 2-0 in the annual meet heading to a much-needed two-day break over the weekend. 

Andray Blatche erupted for a team-high 28 points and 11 rebounds on an efficient 10-of-19 clip in just 27 minutes while Renaldo Balkman recorded his second straight 15-marker game with 10 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block to boot.

After a strong opening quarter from the Syrian side, Mighty launched a game-defining 17-0 run on the back of stellar two-way play from NBA veterans Blatche and Balkman. All in all, the stacked Mighty side outscored their Syrian foes, 23-9, en route to a 42-32 lead at the half. 

Although Al Ittihad sliced the lead as low as 5, 44-49, in the latter half of the 3rd quarter, Mighty held on, nevertheless, to a comfortable margin throughout the better part of the final frame.

Even as Al Ittihad stormed back within striking distance, 70-74, from a 65-74 deficit, Blatche shut the door on their comeback hopes off a dagger trey for the 77-70 gap with 54 ticks left in regulation. 

The Syrians could do nothing else from that point on as they absorbed a narrow defeat in their debut game.

Al Ittihad import Aubrey Coleman carried the load with 30 points as the only player in double-digit scoring for the Syrian side. 

The Scores

Mighty Sports 77 – Blatche 28, Balkman 15, Moore 9, Malonzo 6, Ildefonso 5, Go 5, Kendrick 4, Belga 3, Ravena 2, Gomez de Liaño 0, Williams 0.

Al Ittihad 72 – Coleman 30, Merjaneh 9, Saddir 8, Ali 6, Alhamwi 5, Arbasha 4, Adribi 4, Saleh 4, Jilal 2, Aljabi 0.

Quarters: 19-23, 42-32, 59-47, 77-72.

– Rappler.com

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