(Al Ahli gym)
5 p.m. – Ball Above All vs Homenetmen
7 p.m. – Al Riyade vs Sale
9 p.m. – Mighty Sports vs Sagese
The desire to win was there, but the chemistry and cohesion left a lot to be desired as Mighty Sports-Philippines suffered an 83-75 loss to many-time champion Sale of Morocco in the opening of the 28th Dubai International Basketball Championship at the Ah Ahli gym here.
A last-minute withdrawal of host club Al Ahli did little to surprise Mighty Sports but what hit the team hard were Brandon Freeman’s late 3-point bombs that scuttled the PH squad’s determined comeback.
“The gigil factor was there not to mention that we’re still adjusting but I don’t want to use that as an excuse,” said coach Charles Tiu. “They made the big shots late in the game and we didn’t.”
“Hope we can do better in our next game,” added Tiu.
Mighty Sports, gunning for a second title after sweeping the Jones Cup in Taiwan last year, was playing against Egypt national team at press time.
The sweet-shooting Freeman exploded for 28 points, including back-to-back triples as Sale regained the lead, 72-67, with a little over two minutes left.
Before Freeman’s treys, the crowd erupted in wild celebration as naturalized Marcus Douthit hit two charities that put Mighty Sports back on top, 67-66.
That proved to be Mighty Sports’ last gallant stand as the 6-foot-2 Freeman hit two treys and Zakaria Elmashabi added one for Sale.
Mighty Sports started poorly, trailing most of the way until the 7-foot-3 Tasheem Thabeet came through with a dunk off a steal and Kiefer Ravena hit an undergoal stab for a 60-57 lead early in the payoff period.
Chants of “Ginebra, Ginebra!” from pre-dominantly Filipino crowd erupted when ex-Ginebra import Justin Brownlee opened the fourth with a booming trey.
Brownlee finished with 28 points and four boards but Dominic McGuire and Douthit were held to a combined 17 points while Thabeet was a huge disappointment with 5 points and four rebounds.
Kiefer Ravena accounted himself well with 11 points, four assists and a rebound in 26 minutes of action while Jeron Teng missed all his four attempts but grabbed three boards.
Also winning their matches in the seven-team tournament were Al Riyade, which dumped Egypt, 85-69, and Sagese, which downed Ball Above All, 98-72.
Sale 83 – Freeman 28, Najah 13, Kourdo 11, Elmasbahi 11, Zouita 8, Choua 6, Almuheisny 6, Stowbrifge 0, El Madini 0.
Mighty Sports 75 –Brownlee 27, Ravena 11, McGuire 9, Douhit 8, David 8, Intal 7, Thabeet 5, Miller 0, Tiu 0, Arana 0, Teng 0.
Quarters: 15-7, 30-25, 55-51, 83-75. (REY C. LACHICA)
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