MANILA, Philippines – Shabazz Muhammad once again proved he is a cut above the rest in the 32nd Dubai International Basketball Championship as Strong Group Philippines blew out Al Wahda Syria, 87-61, for their third straight win on Monday, January 30 (Tuesday, January 31, Manila time).
Muhammad led all scorers with a 37-point, 11-rebound eruption in just 24 minutes of action as his fellow ex-NBA brother Nick Young was reduced to a spectator in street clothes after a quiet 3-point outing last game against Al Nasr Libya.
Adamson star guard Jerom Lastimosa and Fil-Am standout Sedrick Barefield filled in for Young’s missed production with 10 points apiece, while former NBA forward Renaldo Balkman scattered 9 points, 10 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks.
Much like its blowout win against Libya, Strong Group got off to a blazing start in the first quarter with a 24-9 opener and never looked back.
Coming off a 44-29 halftime lead, the Philippine team extended its pileup further with a 19-9 third quarter start, capped with a 29-point separation, 68-39, off back-to-back Muhammad jumpers with 2 minutes left in the frame.
Strong Group maintained this distance after a Joel Cagulangan triple with 5:11 left to play in the fourth, 79-50, which pretty much sealed the deal for the loaded squad.
Syria import Kendall Gray was Al Wahda’s lone double-digit scorer in the forgettable loss with 11 points, while five others scored at least 6.
Strong Group, all but assured a playoff berth in the annual pocket tournament, will wrap up its elimination round stand with a must-see matchup against powerhouse Dynamo Lebanon on Wednesday, February 1, 11 pm (Manila time). – Rappler.com
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