Home SPORTS Strong Group kicks off Dubai International hoops tilt with a 2-0 start

Strong Group kicks off Dubai International hoops tilt with a 2-0 start

Strong Group kicks off Dubai International hoops tilt with a 2-0 start
Strong Group PHL will gun for their third-straight win (Nothing But Net Facebook)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

Philippine-based hoops squad Strong Group got off to a rousing start in the ongoing Dubai International Basketball Championship after clinching a 2-0 record in the first scheduled playing week.

After avoiding a late-game meltdown against the United Arab Emirates national team, 91-87, Strong Group bounced back and displayed their signature dominant brand of basketball over the Al Nasr squad of Libya, 93-76, last January 29, 2023.

It was the locals this time who provided the early scoring punch as collegiate superstars BJ Andrade and Justine Baltazar made the most out of their playing time when they led Strong Group to an early double-digit lead.

Andrade, who recently won a UAAP title with the Ateneo Blue Eagles, quickly waxed hot from the three-point line and cashed in three bombs in the first four minutes of the first quarter.

The reliable product of head coach Tab Baldwin took advantage of Libya’s poor perimeter defense and knocked down the assists dished out by Renaldo Balkman and Sedrick Barefield.

Baltazar meanwhile pounded his way in the paint and showcased his variety of offensive moves in the post including a series of hook shots that wowed the crowd.

Despite the offensive surge by Strong Group to build an 18-point lead in the second period, Al Nasr managed to strike back and cut their deficit to just 10 points entering the second half.

Just when Al Nasr thought they could inch closer, the import duo of Balkman and Shabazz Muhammad took matters into their own hands and helped Strong Group retake the momentum midway through the third quarter.

Strong Group then got a huge lift from Jerom Lastimosa and late replacement Kevin Quiambao who called the plays in the last four minutes of the third canto that spearheaded their late scoring snowball.

The PHL representatives will have one day of rest before taking on the Al Wahda-Syria team and will also seek to continue their undefeated campaign in Dubai.