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Strong Group escapes late UAE run to win in Dubai opener

Shabazz Muhammad led Strong Group in scoring in their opening game win. PBA Images (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Strong Group began its campaign in the Dubai International Basketball Championship with a 91-87 win against the United Arab Emirates national team at the start of the event early Saturday (Philippine Time) at the Al-Nasr Sports Club in Dubai.

Strong Group quickly recovered from a slow first quarter and was even on its way to a blowout win, but UAE fought back in the fourth quarter only to fall short of a comeback.

Strong Group found itself down, 19-27, at the end of the first quarter, but behind an 11-point solo run from Nick Young, the team outscored UAE, 33-14, in the second to enter halftime leading, 52-41.

Strong Group stretched its lead to as high as 20, 70-50, late in the third quarter, but in the fourth, UAE came alive and brought the lead down to just three, 90-87, with 14.4 seconds left.

Sedrick Barefield doused cold water on UAE's comeback with a split from the free-throw line to seal Strong Group's win.

Shabazz Muhammad had 24 points, while Barefield added 23 for Strong Group, which will next take on Libyan side Al-Nasr early Sunday (Philippine Time).

Qais Alshabebi finished with 33 markers for UAE.

The Scores:

STRONG GROUP 91 - Muhammad 24, Barefield 23,Young 13, Balkman 12, Lastimosa 6, Andrade 5, Gozum 4, Quiambao 2, Baltazar 2, Cagulangan 0, Oczon 0, Lopez 0.

UAE 87 – Alshabebi 33, Coles 15, Abdullateef 13, Ndiaye 10, Alameeri 7, Hussein 5, Alhashmi 4, Al Nuaimi 0, Alsawan 0, A Albreiki 0, Ayman 0, M Albreiki 0.

Quarters: 19-27, 52-41, 74-58, 91-87.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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