Al Riyadi bundles out PH squad in Dubai
The Philippines’ Strong Group squad couldn’t find a solution to Amir Saoud of Al Riyadi on Friday and bowed out of the 32nd Dubai International Championship after taking a 107-97 quarterfinal loss at Al Nasr Club Hall in the United Arab Emirates.
Saoud, who will banner the Lebanese team that Gilas Pilipinas will square off with in the International Basketball Federation Asia World Cup Qualifying window later this month, drained 17 of Al Riyadi’s fourth-quarter points that finished off the gallant Filipinos.
This is the earliest exit for a PH squad here as the Filipinos relinquish the crown they won via sweep as Mighty Sports the last time the tournament was held in 2020.
“Painful and frustrating loss for us. Couldn’t stop Saoud today no matter what we did,” coach Charles Tiu said. “[He was] just too experienced for our team right now. [The] offense wasn’t the problem, but [we just] couldn’t get stops.”
The young coach vowed to return fully prepared and much stronger next year even as he thanked Filipino fans who bought expensive tickets to watch their game.
“Thank you to our Filipino fans for supporting us. We are sorry for the loss. We will come back stronger for sure,” added Tiu.
Saoud went on to finish with 41 points, with import Dominic Johnson backing him up 23 points and seven rebounds.
Al Riyadi was the team that Mighty Sports humbled in 2020.
Shabazz Muhammad paced the Philippine representatives with 27 points and seven rebounds while Renaldo Balkman had 16 points and 15 rebounds.