Strong Group, showing better chemistry and teamwork this time, routed Al Nasr of Libya, 93-76, to stay perfect in the 32nd Dubai International Basketball Championship at the Al-Nasr Club Hall early Sunday, Jan. 29 (Manila time).
Putting its “ugly win” over the United Arab Emirates behind, the country’s representative to the 9-team tournament used a strong a start and a better finish to win convincingly before another good-sized Filipino crowd.“We played much better this time and my locals also did well,” said Strong Group coach Charles Tiu. “BJ (Andrade) started it all.
Three early triples from Andrade sparked the massive opening frame onslaught before imports Renaldo Balkman and Shabazz Muhammad followed suit, erecting an early 19-point (35-16) lead for the team owned by Jacob Lao.
Al Nasr, refusing to go into the night silently, managed to cut the lead down to nine points multiple times in the second and third quarters but the team backed by Mighty Sports and Acrocity simply had answers to every run – the last of which an 11-0 blitz to close out the third frame and establish a 23 point lead, 81-58 heading into the final frame.
Muhammad dropped 13 of his 26 points in the first quarter alone to go along with his seven rebounds while Balkman finished with 18 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Sedrick Barefield added 14, Justine Baltazar wound up with 10 while Andrade and Kevin Quiambao chipped in nine apiece as the game was practically over at the end of the three quarters with Strong Group even stretching the lead to its largest at 26 midway through the payof period.
Donte Lammot paced Al Nasr with 22 points and five rebounds while Michael Babatond added 14.
Strong Group, which currently leads the Group A standings, takes a one-day off before plunging back to action on Tuesday, Jan. 31 (Manila time) against Syrian team Al Wahda.