Asian basketball

Jordan Heading waxes hot as Strong Group completes 5-0 elims sweep in Dubai

Martin Mendoza

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Jordan Heading waxes hot as Strong Group completes 5-0 elims sweep in Dubai

HOT HAND. Strong Group's Jordan Heading in action in the Dubai International Basketball Championship.


Thanks to the hot hand of Jordan Heading, Strong Group Athletics overcomes its toughest challenge yet in the Dubai International Basketball Championship

MANILA, Philippines – The undefeated streak lives on for Strong Group Athletics. 

In its final game of the elimination round, Strong Group overcame its toughest challenge yet in the 33rd Dubai International Basketball Championship, escaping Al Ahly Tripoli Sports Club by the skin of its teeth, 91-89, on Wednesday, January 24 (Thursday, January 25, Manila time.) 

The Philippine side rode on the hot hand of Gilas Pilipinas sharpshooter Jordan Heading, who scored a tournament-best 19 points on 5-of-11 clip from beyond the arc. 

With Al Ahly threatening to pull away early with its biggest lead of 12 points, 27-15, with 1:29 to play in the first quarter, Heading caught fire in the next period, unloading 3 of his 5 treys to help Strong Group overtake the Libyan squad at halftime, 51-50. 

After a tight, back-and-forth battle between the two powerhouse teams throughout the second half, it was also Heading who knocked down two cold-blooded insurance free throws with only 18 seconds left to give Strong Group an all-important 91-88 cushion.

Al Ahly had multiple chances to tie the ball game and potentially send it into overtime in the next play, but three-point attempts by Naseim Badrush and Walter Hodge failed to hit the target. 

UAAP MVP Kevin Quiambao and former NBA superstar Dwight Howard helped Heading carry Strong Group’s scoring cudgels with 17 points apiece.

The five-time All-NBA First Team member Howard came up big down the stretch for Strong Group, dropping 9 of his 17 points in the final six minutes.  

Former Oklahoma City Thunder forward Andre Roberson and naturalized Filipino big man Andray Blatche also finished in double-digit scoring for Strong Group with 13 and 10 markers, respectively.  

Badrush paced Al Ahly in the loss with a game-high 27 points, while Mohamed Sadi added 22.  

Strong Group – which stretched its unblemished record to 5-0 – will take on Moroccan squad AS Sale in the knockout quarterfinals on Saturday, January 27, at 1:15 am, Manila time.  

The Scores

Strong Group Athletics 91 – Heading 19, Quiambao 17, Howard 17, Roberson 13, Blatche 10, Moore 7, Baltazar 3, Liwag 3, Escandor 2, Ynot 0.

Al Ahly Tripoli 89 – Badrush 27, Sadi 22, Hodge 17, West 10, Wesley 6, Dawo 5, Ramadan 2, Abdarhim 0, Sedek 0.

Quarters: 20-27, 51-50, 74-73, 91-89.


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