|Juan Gomez De Liaño sparked Mighty Sports' early push. Herbert Iponla/Mighty Sports (file photo)|
By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA—Mighty Sports held on despite a late rally from Al-Naft and took a 108-94 win in the quarterfinals of the Dubai International Basketball Championship at the Shabab Al Ahli Club in Dubai early Friday (Philippine Time).
Al-Naft, which entered the playoffs as the fourth seed in Group A, came close to steal a shocker away from Mighty Sports, the top seed in Group B, but the latter regained its form in time.
Mighty Sports started the game scorching as Juan Gomez De Liaño helped the team open a 21-point lead.
But De Mario led Al Naft’s first fight back to cut the lead down to 11, 57-46, at halftime.
Justin Brownlee then came to life in the third period, torching for 11 points to help stretch Mighty Sports’ lead to as much as 23.
Al-Naft still did not give up as Tayloe Taylor and Karrar Hamzah colluded in lifting the team back to within six.
But Mighty Sports responded with a 6-0 run as Roosevelt Adams once again stepped up in crunch time to seal the win.
Brownlee, despite playing with a knee contusion, still put up an impressive stat line of 26 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and three blocks for Mighty Sports, which is now 5-0 overall in the tournament.
Adams added 22 markers, while Gomez De Liaño finished with 21 of his own.
Jeremiah Gray put up 20 points of his own, meaning that four of Mighty Sports’ five starters put up 20-point games each.
The said feat can be attributed to the fact that Mighty Sports buried 16 three-point baskets in total.
Randolph Morris contributed 14 markers and 15 caroms, while Jason Brickman dished out 10 assists alongside six points.
Taylor put 26 points, while Hamza added 22 for Al-Naft, which was knocked out of the competition.
Mighty Sports will next face six-time tournament champion Al Riyadi, 96-74 winner over Al Wahda in their own quarterfinal duel, in the knockout semifinals scheduled later Friday.
Mighty Sports can spoil an all-Lebanese final with a huge win against Al Riyadi as Homenetmen and Beirut Club will face off in the other semifinal.
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