Mighty Sports on the upswing
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - January 24, 2019 - 12:00am

Mighty Sports will represent the Philippines in the 30th Dubai International Basketball Championships at the Al Ahli Sports Club on Feb. 1-9 with coach Charles Tiu assembling an all-star cast to go up against a formidable cast of contenders.

The 10 teams participating in the tournament are Mighty Sports, Coastal Star of Tunisia, United Arab Emirates national squad, Sala of Morocco, Al Riyadi of Lebanon, Al Ittihad of Egypt, Al Zamalek of Egypt, Beirut of Lebanon, Homenetnem of Lebanon and Champville of Lebanon. Two imports are allowed to play at any time during a game but a team may include more than two reinforcements in a roster. Mighty Sports, for instance, will bring in three imports – 6-10 Lamar Odom, 6-11 Randolph Morris and 6-5 Justin Brownlee. Others in the Mighty Sports lineup are PBA veterans Joseph Yeo, Gab Banal and Jett Manuel, UP’s Juan Gomez de Liano, La Salle’s Dodong Santillan, St. Benilde’s Justin Gutang, NU’s Troy Rike, College of Idaho’s Roosevelt Adams and Dominican University of California’s Jeremiah Gray.  

It won’t be Mighty Sports’ first foray in Dubai. In 2017, the team had a forgettable 1-3 stint in the competition despite a lineup composed of NBA veteran Hasheem Thabeet, Brownlee, Marcus Douthit, Chris Tiu, Beau Belga, J. C. Intal, Willie Miller, Gary David, Ryan Arana, Kiefer Ravena, Jeron Teng and Manuel. This year, Mighty Sports hopes to make up for that disastrous showing.

Mighty Sports, however, won the 2016 Jones Cup title with Bo Perasol calling the shots. The cast included Sunday Salvacion, Larry Rodriguez, Jeric Teng, Leo Avenido, Michael Singletary, Vernon Macklin, T. Y. Tang, Al Thornton, Edrick Ferrer, Jason Brickman and Hamady N’diaye. That same year, Mighty Sports lost a heartbreaker to the Shanghai Sharks in the final of the Merlion Cup in Singapore. Sharks import Jimmer Fredette sank three free throws with no time left on a foul attempting a triple to seal the deal, 78-77. The roster included Ravena, Yeo, Gelo Alolino, Gab and Ael Banal, Tang, Brickman, Thornton, Jason Deutchman, Matthew Wright and Dewarick Spencer.

Mighty Sports head of public relations and marketing Dominic Uy, a PBA TV analyst, said the company’s primary business objective is to expand its apparel business from the current contracts with Xavier, UP and St. Benilde to other schools. 

“We’re into sportswear, apparel and accessories,” said Uy. “Basketball-wise, our support is for the development of the Xavier varsity program as we have done through the years, to develop athletes for the college level. We are closely developing our marketing team to identify areas of expansion.”

Uy said Mighty Sports is the official supplier of PE uniforms at Xavier and also provides the varsity wear of the Fighting Maroons and Blazers. “We’ve got a 1,500-square meter factory in Guiguinto, Bulacan, where we manufacture our products using local and imported materials,” he added. “We do sublimation and silkscreen. We want to grow our business, promote our brand and we’re also looking into exports. Maybe, sometime in the future, we could put up a team in the PBA D-League.”

Uy, a Mighty Sports assistant coach in the Merlion Cup, said Tiu will be backed up by Tang and consultant Perasol on the bench in Dubai. Perasol is only the second Filipino coach after Chot Reyes to win the Jones Cup crown and achieved the feat with Mighty Sports in 2016. Ron Jacobs and Tim Cone were others who coached the Philippines to Jones Cup titles.  

Odom, 39, is a 14-year NBA veteran with the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers, Miami and Dallas while Morris, 33, is a four-year NBA veteran with New York and Atlanta. Odom was on two Laker championship teams and was the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year awardee in 2011. He averaged in double figure points in 12 of his 14 seasons. Morris was the Chinese league’s Finals MVP in 2014. 

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