STRONG Group cruised to a wire-to-wire 93-76 win over Al Nasr of Libya for its second win in the 32nd Dubai International Basketball Championship at the Al Nasr Club Hall yesterday.
The Philippine contingent raced to a 24-6 start and never looked back for a 2-0 slate atop the Group A of the nine-team invitationals in the Middle East.
Shabazz Muhammad once again headlined the attack with 26 points in only 22 minutes of play after scattering 24 markers in their slim 91-87 win over the United Arab Emirates (UAE) national team.
Renaldo Balkman carded 18 markers and nine boards with Filipino-American guard Sedrick Barefield scoring 14 to lead the locals.
Former NBA champion Nick Young bled for just three but local aces Justine Baltazar (10), BJ Andrade (9) and Kevin Quiambao (9) stepped up big time after a quiet outing against UAE.
The wards of coach Charles Tiu led by as many as 26 points, highlighted by a searing 17-1 spurt in the third period, en route to a 17-point victory.
Donte Lamnot had 22 points for Al Nasr, which slid to a 1-1 after an 80-66 win over Al Wahda of Syria.
Owned by Jacob Lao, Strong Group was to play Al Wahda at 11 p.m. last night in a bid to move closer to a group sweep with Lebanon’s Dynamo serving as its last assignment.
Strong Group is eyeing to become the second Philippine team to rule the Dubai tilt after Mighty Sports in 2020 before the pandemic.
Mighty then completed a 7-0 sweep of the tourney with Mr. Tiu calling the shots and Mr. Balkman leading the way. — John Bryan Ulanday