Asian basketball

More than a Dwight Howard team: Strong Group locals torch Al Wahda for 2nd Dubai win

JR Isaga

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More than a Dwight Howard team: Strong Group locals torch Al Wahda for 2nd Dubai win

WORLD-CLASS. Strong Group forward Kevin Quiambao reacts in the 33rd Dubai International Basketball Championship

Dubai Sports

La Salle teammates Kevin Quiambao and Francis Escandor wax hot from downtown in Dubai, dropping 11 of Strong Group's 17 treys in a 22-point blowout of Al Wahda-Syria for win No. 2

MANILA, Philippines – In just the second game of the 33rd Dubai International Basketball Championship, Strong Group Athletics-Philippines proved it is a team so much more than just a Dwight Howard convoy, dropping 17 threes on the way to an 89-67 rout of Al Wahda-Syria on Saturday, January 20.

La Salle teammates Kevin Quiambao and Francis Escandor, fresh off a UAAP Season 86 title win, led the local crew with 24 and 18 points, respectively. Quiambao, also the new UAAP MVP, sank all 6 of his three-point attempts, while Escandor was no slouch from downtown with a 5-of-6 clip.

Somewhat buried in the avalanche of triples, meanwhile, is Andray Blatche’s much-needed comeback effort, as the former Gilas Pilipinas naturalized anchor silenced his critics with a decent 12-point outing in just 19 minutes, including an 8-point first-quarter effort that set the tone for the rest.

Blatche, who is noticeably far from game shape in his current Dubai stint, stunk up his 2024 debut game with 0 points on 0-of-10 shooting in Strong Group’s first win against the UAE national team.

With Howard manning the boards and interior defense as expected, it was Quiambao and Escandor who ran the offensive show, transforming a small 5-point, second quarter lead, 23-18, to a 16-point separation, 34-18, off an 11-0 spurt that Al Wahda never really recovered from.

After scoring just 6 first-half points, Escandor ended the night adding 12 more in the latter two frames, while Quiambao all but sealed the deal at the 4-minute mark of the fourth quarter with one last jumper to peak with a 27-point separation, 82-55.

Known prolific sniper Jordan Heading joined the fun with 12 points on 2-of-3 shooting from beyond the arc, as Strong Group even got one triple from Howard, who cruised to a line of 5 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 blocks in just 22 minutes.

Myron Jordan paced the losing cause with 19 points, as Jomaru Hohadbrown led the bench mob with 17.

There will be no rest for the weary victors, meanwhile, as Strong Group now turns its focus to Homenetmen – its third assignment in as many days – on Sunday, January 21, 11:15 pm (Manila time).

The Scores

Strong Group-Philippines 89 – Quiambao 24, Escandor 18, Heading 12, Blatche 12, Moore 8, Roberson 5, Howard 5, Baltazar 3, Ynot 2, Cagulangan 0, Sanchez 0, Liwag 0.

Al Wahda-Syria 67 – Jordan 19, Hohadbrown 17, Alhamwi 10, Banks 8, Arbasha 5, Jlelati 4, Otabachi 2, Kassabali 2, Ghaith 0, Alhalabi 0, Aljabi 0, Al Osh 0.

Quarters: 24-13, 43-30, 64-48, 89-67.


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