By Rey C. Lachica
Game Saturday (Al Ahli Club)
9 p.m. – Mighty Sports vs UAE
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Former LA Lakers star Lamar Odom fired blank bullets in his first competitive game from a near-death experience in 2015, but nobody complained as Ginebra resident import Justin Brownlee and NBA veteran Randolph Morris were there to deliver for Mighty Sports.
Before some 2,000 chanting Filipino migrants, Mighty Sports put on a virtual clinic as it romped to an 87-58 win over a hapless American University in Dubai late Friday at the start of the 30th Dubai International Basketball Championship at the Shabab Al Ahli Club here.
Odom did score only four points on a paltry 2-of-10 shooting from the field, including 0-of-5 from trifectaville, but he was delighted by his game and so were his adoring fans.
“It was really fun out there and I felt good. I really enjoyed it because of the fans. Hopefully, I can do better next time,” said Odom who also finished with seven rebounds, two assists and a steal in close to 27 minutes of play for the sports apparel and accessories team backed SMDC, Go For Gold, Oriental Group and Healthcube.
“It’s a good game, but I don’t think this is the real competition,” Mighty coach Charles Tiu admitted. “This is probably the weakest team in the whole tournament naman eh.”
“He’s really improving and he played for the crowd. I think he made some big plays too out there,” said Tiu of Odom who gamely posed with his fans before and after the game.
“Congrats to the team, you already matched your one-game showing two years ago. Hope you will win more games,” said co-team owner Alex Wongchuking in a text message to Tiu.
While Odom was still trying to rediscover his offensive rhythm – not to mention trying to build his stamina, Brownlee exploded right away and elicited chants of “Ginebra! Ginebra!”.
Coming off the bench, Brownlee buried back-to-back triples late in the first quarter that broke the game wide apart and led to some highlight plays from Fil-Ams Jerimiah Gray, Roosevelt Adam, and Jason Brickman.
University of the Philippines star Juan Gomez de Liano also brought the house down with one spectacular drive in the second half that saw Mighty Sports – co-owned Caesar Wongchuking – erect a commanding 66-33 lead late in the third canto.
Brownlee went on to finish with 17 points spiked by three threes while Gray, Morris, and Jett Manuel chipped in 15-, 14 and 12 points, respectively.
Up next for Mighty Sports is the national team of the host country, then Homenetmen of Lebanon on Sunday before taking a rest on Monday. Mighty Sports caps its elimination round campaign on Tuesday against Al Wahda.
MIGHTY SPORTS 87 – Brownlee 17, Gray 15, Morris 14, Manuel 12, Banal 8, Adams 7, Odom 4, Santillan 4, Gomez de Liano 4, Wongchuking 2, Brickman 0, Yeo 0
AUD 58 – Trab 20, Mbengue 10, Faroug 8, Morgan 6, Johnson 5, Bin Khatam 3, Farah 2, Albreiki 2, Ferns 2, Mohammed 0, El Ali 0
Quarterscores: 23-9, 47-20, 68-37, 87-58