Locals need to step up as Mighty Sports face tough challenge from China, Korea

With the Shanghai Sharks and the Seoul Samsung Thunders looming as the favourites for the 2016 Merlion Cup  in Singapore, Mighty Sports will be depending on the firepower from its locals to complement its three American reinforcements.

Mighty Sports team manager Jean Alabanza sees the Singapore cage joust as a far more different competition compared to the William Jones Cup, which the Philippine representative won via an eight-game sweep.

For one, unlike in the Jones Cup where eight American imports powered Mighty Sports to the championship, the Merlion Cup allows each team to tap only a maximum three American imports.

“Right now, the way we see it, it’s a totally different tournament,” Alabanza told FOX Sports.

“Siyempre, teams from China, they have a legitimate CBA team and also, they have a limit to the imports and then we don’t have the same line up (from Jones Cup) as before, which is something we looked forward to, so we put up a team mostly Filipinos so panibagong challenge na,” he added.

Alabanza noted that the Sharks will be a tough nut to crack due to their expected height advantage, while the Thunder will be composed of several national players from Korea, making them another tournament favorite in Singapore.

Mighty Sports will actually face Samsung Thunders on opening day in September 21, before tangling with 2016 Asean Basketball League champion KL Dragons the following day.

Former Gilas naturalized player Marcus Douthit is expected to bring in his vast experience in international competitions as he tries to provide support to American imports Al Thornton, shot-blocking Senegal nation al player Hamady N’Diyae and Dewarick Spencer, who was named the 2016 Jones Cup MVP.

Providing the vital support are locals led by Fil-Am playmaker Jason Brickman, ABL star Matthew Wright, former PBA journeyman Jason Deuchman, TY Tang, along with amateurs Edrick Ferrer, Gelo Alolino, James Martinez, Ael and Gab Banal. – Richard Dy

Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava

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