Mighty Sports has just created a big name for itself after winning the Dubai International Basketball Championship without losing a single game since the elimination round and becoming the latest toast in a country where basketball seems to be a national pastime.
Backstopped by former Gilas naturalized player Andray Blatche and three imports in Renaldi Balkman, McKenzie Moore, and Jelan Kendrick—Mighty turned back defending champion Al Riyadi Lebanon, 92-81, on Saturday at the Shabab Al Ahli Club in Dubai.
The win completed a 7-0 sweep for Mighty Sports which became the first non-Middle Eastern team to win the championship in the prestigious tournament in three decades.
Coach Charles Tiu said he wants to keep the core of the team if and when they are given go-signal by the Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas to represent the country in international tournaments, including Jones Cup in Taiwan.
“For us any time, if we’re asked to represent the country, we will be down for it, form the best team as much as possible. I don’t know if we can keep these guys as some of them already represent the Philippines in Gilas,” said coach Charles Tiu.
With the win, talks ran like electric shock that Mighty could be the next expansion team in the Philippine Basketball Association, and this was actually mentioned in previous PBA stories.
However, joining the pro league is not a priority for the team, at least according to its owner Cesar Wongchuking, who said their goal is to represent the Philippines in international tournaments.
“Mighty Sports joins tournaments by invitation. As of now we have no plans joining locally,” said Wongchuking during the team’s victory party on Thursday at Milkyway Restaurant in Makati City.
“Our plan is to represent the Philippines in international competitions. This is our objective,” stressed Wongchuking.
Wongchuking didn’t hide his joy as he was joined by some notable people in Philippine basketball in the celebration, but stressed they are not joining the PBA just yet.
“Dito muna kami sa international competition. Masaya kami at nakapagbibigay kami ng kasiyahan sa ating mga kabayayan sa abroad at nakapag-uuwi tayo ng karangalan para sa bansa,” said Wongchuking.
The Mighty Dubai stint was also made possible with the help of Creative Pacific of Bong Cuevas, Go For Gold, Oriental Group, Discovery Primea and Gatoratde which the team owner cited and thanked during the party.
The team was composed of Beau Belga, Joseph Yeo, Gab Banal, Thirdy Ravena, Dave Ildefonso, Jamie Malonzo, Juan and Javi Gomez de Liaño, Isaac Go, Jarerel Lim, Joaqui Manuel and Mikey Williams.
SBP Special Assistant to the President, Ryan Gregorio said there’s no plan yet as to which team would be tapped to represent the Philippines in the Taiwan joust, although he added Might Sports is in the ‘priority list.’
The Jones Cup where Mighty Sports is also the defending champion is set in July.
“They have been supportive to the programs of the federation. It’s just overwhelming that they were able to win the Dubai Cup,” said Gregorio.