Armed to the teeth this time, Mighty won’t settle for less than title
Championship or bust.
That’s the mission for Mighty Sports Philippines when it plunges into action in the United Arab Emirates for the 31st Dubai International Basketball Championships beginning Jan. 23.
“To be blunt, we really have to win gold. Our goal is to win the championship or it’s a failed tournament, to say the least,” coach Charles Tiu said.
Much of that goal, though, will be anchored on teen NBA hopeful Kai Sotto, who due to prior commitments will only join the team once they arrive in the Arab city on Jan. 22.
“We won’t have time to integrate him into our system right away,” Tiu added. “I was hoping to have him for about a week.”But he insisted that he’s up for the challenge. Mighty Sports, if anything, is still peppered with firepower ranging from the amateur to pros.
Set to join Sotto and longtime Gilas Pilipinas standout Andray Blatche is Renaldo Balkman, an NBA journeyman, a multi-time PBA import and Puerto Rican national team mainstay. There’s a handful of young talent, too, in Thirdy Ravena, Dave Ildefonso and Juan Gomez de Liaño.
And then there are the other foreign reinforcements like McKenzie Moore, once the most valuable player of Australia’s top pro league.
“I think offensively, we’re very gifted. We have a lot of guys who can make plays, who can score, very versatile, can score inside and outside. I think offensively, we’re complete,” Tiu said.Mighty Sports hopes to shake off the bitter taste of a third-place finish in a field that will also feature tournament favorite Al Riyadi and African teams.Organizers said in a social media posting that they would announce the tournament’s full schedule after Monday’s draw.
Philippine games—set late night here in the Philippines—will be streamed across multiple platforms.
Still, Tiu said he has faith Sotto could easily fit into the team’s system.
“The good thing with Kai is he’s a very smart player. He has no attitude [problem],” he said of the 7-foot-3 beanpole, who is now training in the United States.
“We’ve been sending him videos of what we’re doing here in practice so he could start since we’re pressed for time,” Tiu said. “But we already know what he can do. Offensively, he’s very talented. With him, Blatche and Balkman together, we can be a bit of a problem for the other teams.” INQ
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