Mighty squad confident going into Dubai tourney
Representing the country on the international stage is already quite the opportunity. But to assemble a team oozing with talent and experience? It’s something Mighty Sports’ Caesar Wongchuking relishes.
“I’m beaming with pride,” the team owner said on Thursday night in Mighty Sports’ send-off at La Campana in Makati for the Dubai International Basketball Championship that unfurls on Jan. 23 at Shabab al Ahli Sports Club.
“Among the teams I’ve handled, this one is the most I’m most excited about,” he added.
This iteration of the Mighty Sports crew not only banners a healthy mix of international firepower and amateur talent, but also gives a glimpse of what Wongchuking feels is the future of Philippine basketball.
Gilas Pilipinas veteran Andray Blatche, who leads the crop of international stars, is set to boost the roster. Joining the naturalized big man is Puerto Rican star and former NBA journeyman Renaldo Balkman, McKenzie Moore, Mikey Williams and Jelan Kendrick.
The young bunch is led by teen NBA hopeful Kai Sotto, UAAP stars Thirdy Ravena, Juan and Javi Gomez de Liaño, along with Dave Ildefonso, Jamie Malonzo and Joaqui Manuel.
Also providing boost are pros and holdovers Beau Belga, Gab Banal and Joseph Yeo.
“Our imports are solid,” said coach Charles Tiu, who will be reprising his role at the helm, this time with the help of Angola national coach Will Voigt.
“I like our locals crew,” he added. “You look at the guys, all the college stars are out here. So I think it’s going to be fun.”
Mighty Sports, though, will be about business when they leave for the venue this coming Wednesday.
Tiu’s charges are not only shooting for redemption in the tournament where they last finished at third place, but also trying to make history as the first non-Middle Eastern team to win it all, according to Wongchuking.
“The competition is going to be very tough,” Tiu said. “All other teams have three imports and they have been playing together for years. This year, I believe, there are more African teams, which is never a good sign.”