Asian basketball

Dwight Howard signs with Strong Group Philippines for 2024 Dubai tournament

Philip Matel

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Dwight Howard signs with Strong Group Philippines for 2024 Dubai tournament

Dwight Howard.

Photo from Twitter/@NBA

In a stunning development, former NBA champion and 8-time All-Star Dwight Howard heads to the Philippines to play for Strong Group in the 2024 Dubai International Basketball Championship

MANILA, Philippines – Eight-time NBA All-Star Dwight Howard is set to play for Strong Group in the 2024 Dubai International Basketball Championship, head coach Charles Tiu confirmed to Rappler on Tuesday, January 2.

Howard, most notable for his time with the Orlando Magic and Los Angeles Lakers, is set to arrive next week.

The three-time Defensive Player of the Year and one-time NBA champion is set to make the Philippines his first stop in his “World Smile Tour” – a concerted effort to crack a roster spot in the NBA, according to the Athletic’s Shams Charania.

Howard is set to join former Gilas Pilipinas naturalized player Andray Blatche and ex-Oklahoma City Thunder guard Andre Roberson as the team’s reinforcements.

“We are excited for him to come and play for our team. It would be a great honor to have him. He can still play and wants to win,” Tiu said in a message.

“But of course until he actually gets here, I’m holding my breath,” he added.

Local talent such as UAAP Season 86 Most Valuable Player Kevin Quiambao and Francis Escandor from La Salle, and UP’s JD Cagulangan will also beef up the team as it prepares for the Dubai tournament slated this January 19 to 28.

Howard, who most recently played for Taoyuan Leopards of the T1 League in Taiwan, was able to sign with the team through Blatche, who played in the NBA for almost a decade.

“I had Andray Blatche help me recruit him, and I gave him a call, we spoke for some time had a good talk and figured he’d be a good fit for us,” said Tiu, who also calls the shots for the College of St. Benilde Blazers in the NCAA.

Last year, the Renaldo Balkman-led team was booted out of the quarterfinals with a 106-97 loss to Al Riyadi.

Other notable Strong Group signings throughout its run in Dubai are other former NBA players like Balkman, Nick Young, and Shabazz Muhammad. – Rappler.com

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