Filipinos’ support makes Mighty Sports title run in Dubai sweeter
MANILA, Philippines—The love from Filipinos in Dubai made Mighty Sports Philippines’ conquest of the Dubai International Basketball Championship last week even sweeter.
Mighty Sports, which put together some of the country’s top amateur stars, noted imports and PBA veterans, swept its way to the championship in Dubai in front of hundreds of Filipino fans at Shabab Al Ahli Club last Sunday.
It was the first time that a team outside of the Middle East won the title.
“The Filipinos’ support there in Dubai was something else, it made us play even harder. Some of them even traveled from hours away [to see us play], so that really energized us,” said Thirdy Ravena during Mighty Sports’ victory party on Thursday.
The former Ateneo star was one of the young stars in this year’s Mighty Sports line-up that was bolstered by Gilas naturalized player Andray Blatche and import Renaldo Balkman, who was named the tournament MVP.
“The Filipino crowd was amazing out there. I didn’t know how many Filipinos were there in Dubai and just the support from them, I look forward to being part of it again,” said Jamie Malonzo, who played one season for La Salle and was one of the team’s newcomers.
But despite Mighty Sports’ loaded roster, head coach Charles Tiu admitted that it needed some time before the team reached its true potential.
“After the first few days of practice and our first game, it didn’t look too good for us. Eventually, everything fell into place. The players just started playing better and coming together as a team. I didn’t think we’d sweep it but we’re very happy to win the championship.”
Mighty Sports turned back Al Riyadi Lebanon, the same team which sent them packing in the semifinals last year, in the final, 92-81, to cap off a 7-0 campaign.
“Mighty Sports is a brand that emphasizes excellence and being proud and for us to be able to represent the Philippines is truly an honor. It’s so much sweeter that we won the championship,” said team owner Caesar Wongchuking.
The championship was Mighty Sports’ third since winning the Jones Cup in 2016 and 2019 but it has not been decided whether it will represent the Philippines in the said tournament again this year.
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