Mighty Sports coach Charles Tiu is confident that his team could beat the Westports Malaysia Dragons and book a semifinal seat on Friday night when they clash in the third day of the 2016 Merlion Cup in Singapore.
The Philippine representative opened the tournament with a 92-87 win over powerhouse Seoul Samsung Thunders on Wednesday behind Al Thornton’s 35 points and Senegal national big man Hamady N’Diyae’s 16 points and nine boards.
The Filipinos will be facing a Dragons side that is coming off a 99-70 beating at the hands of the Thunders on Thursday.
“I think the Samsung Thunders are much tougher than the KL Dragons,” Tiu told FOX Sports. “KL only had one import today in Joel Wright (the former Star import) but I heard another one is coming (against Mighty on Friday).”
The 6-foot-8 Wright, fresh from a recent stint with the Hotshots in the PBA Governors Cup, paced the Dragons with 37 points, but failed to get the much-needed support from his teammates, leading to the 29-point defeat by the 2016 Asean Basketball League champion.
“We just have to play our game and respect them (Dragons) and play hard,” added Tiu, whose team could complete a two-game sweep of Group B and book a semifinal seat with a win.
But for the Filipinos to reach the Finals and hopefully, win the championship on this six-nation tournament, Tiu said it is imperative for the locals led by Joseph Yeo of GlobalPort and Kiefer Ravena to learn how to play together.
“Kiefer, Joseph and our locals fit in well with the imports. Everybody is willing to sacrifice for the team,” noted the brother of Rain or Shine guard Chris Tiu.
“The real challenge for us is for them (locals) to find out how to play together because they’ve never really played with one another and the familiarity is not there.”
Tiu also singled out the Shanghai as the team to beat, citing their American imports Jimmer Fredette, an NBA veteran, and 20-year-old Frech forward Guerschon Yabuesele, who was selected 16th overall by the Boston Celtics in the NBA Draft last June.
The Sharks had a smashing tournament debut after clobbering the Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor, 84-43. – Richard Dy
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