Thornton, Ravena combine forces against Koreans.
SINGAPORE – Mighty Sports Apparel Philippines brought down powerhouse Seoul Samsung Thunders, 92-87, to jumpstart its title bid in the 2016 Merlion Cup basketball tournament Wednesday here.
The Mighty Sports squad started tentatively and needed a decisive third quarter run behind the hot shooting of former PBA import Al Thornton to hurdle its opening game in the tournament revived after 20 years of hiatus.
Two-time UAAP MVP Kiefer Ravena also rose to the occasion as he joined hands with Jones Cup MVP Dewarick Spencer and Thornton in scuttling Samsung’s determined comeback with timely shots in the last three minutes.
In that stretch, Thornton scored five points, including a booming triple, before Spencer hit a floater while Ravena banged in a buzzer-beating jumper to complete the team’s remarkable come-from-behind win.
Backed by HC Technology Pte. Ltd., Huishi International Group Co. Ltd., Cebuana Lhuillier and Scratch It, Mighty Sports fell behind by 10 points, 41-31 early in the second quarter before taking the initiative in the third frame.
The win pushed Mighty Sports to within a win of sweeping its three-team Group B elims. The squad is looking to annex its second straight title after a grand sweep of the Jones Cup.
Thornton fired a game-high 35 points while 6-foot-11 Hamady N’Dyiaye hauled down nine boards to go with his 16 points as Mighty Sports defeated the two-time Korean Basketball League (KBL) champion.
Showing the brilliance that won for himself the highest individual award in Jones Cup in Taiwan last month, Spencer had 15 points and five assists.
It was also the first-ever win for Charles Tiu as a head coach after serving as assistant on the Mighty Sports squad that won the Jones Cup.
“This win is the first for this team. It’s a new group although we still have some of the guys who played in Taiwan. But it’s a new team,” Tiu said after the game.
“It’s still a work in progress. The boys are slowly getting used to playing together. We’re still looking for the right combinations. But we’re getting there,” he added.
Tiu said they struggled early in the game but found their rhythm in the second half. “The game turned around when the boys started playing defense,” he noted.
Mighty Sports will meet the Westports Malaysia Dragons today at the OCBC Arena to close out the elimination round.