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


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