Mighty Sports faces rough sail­ing in Dubai

Tempo - - Sports -

While for­mer LA Lak­ers star Lamar Odom has been do­ing al­most ev­ery­thing to be in tip-top shape, Mighty Sports coach Charles Tiu has ex­pressed ap­pre­hen­sion af­ter learn­ing that three top Mid­dle East teams will also com­pete in the Dubai In­ter­na­tional Bas­ket­ball Tour­na­ment slated Feb. 1 to 9.

Aside from reign­ing ti­tlist Coastal Star of Tu­nisia, Mighty Sports might also face the na­tional team of Jor­dan and Al Riyadi of Le­banon depend­ing on which group it will play in the pre­lim­i­nar­ies of the 10team tour­na­ment.

Adding to Tiu’s con­cerns is the fact the team is yet to prac­tice to­gether so it needs to work dou­ble time once the team is com­plete if it wants to con­tend for the ti­tle.

“That’s a big chal­lenge, while other teams have been play­ing to­gether for a cou­ple of years now we will only have at least seven prac­tice days. I think we need a mir­a­cle this time,” said Tiu with a smile.

Team owner Alex Wongchuk­ing echoed Tiu’s ob­ser­va­tion, say­ing the team, also spon­sored by Healthcube, Go For Gold and Ori­en­tal Group, is hard-pressed to mir­ror its im­pres­sive 2016 Jones Cup sweep in Tai­wan and a run­ner-up fin­ish in the Mer­lion Cup – also on the same year.

“When they will all ar­rive, they will only have a week of prepa­ra­tion, and that is our big­gest con­cern right now. We can’t rely on tal­ent alone, there must be a good chem­istry,” said Wongchuk­ing.

In his In­sta­gram ac­count, Odom vowed to help Mighty Sports cap­ture the cham­pi­onship af­ter the team won only one game in their ini­tial foray in the an­nual event two years ago.

Tiu and Wongchuk­ing, how­ever, re­fused to be swayed.

“We re­ally don’t know his con­di­tion yet,” said Tiu. “Work­ing out is very dif­fer­ent from ac­tual game.”

Beef­ing up Mighty Sports are Ginebra res­i­dent im­port Jus­tine Brown­lee, Chi­nese Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (CBA) vet­eran Ran­dolph Mor­ris, and a pair of ex­cit­ing Fil-Am play­ers.

Other mem­bers of the team are for­mer PBA play­ers Jett Manuel and Joseph Yeo, ex­cit­ing UP play­maker Juan Gomez de Liano, La Salle for­ward Santi San­til­lan, and Col­lege of St. Be­nilde’s Justin Gu­tang.

LAMAR ODOM CHARLES TIU

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