Mighty Sports may have fallen short of its championship bid in the Merlion Cup in Singapore, but coach Charles Tiu was particularly pleased with how everyone played despite being formed just two weeks before the tournament.
The Philippine representative swept its Group B assignment, nosed out host Singapore Slingers in the semifinals, before dropping a 78-77 decision to Shanghai in the Finals on import and NBA veteran Jimmer Fredette’s three free throws with no time left, allowing the Sharks to clinch the title Sunday.
“We didn’t have a particularly great tournament, but we played a really great game when it mattered,” Tiu shared to FOX Sports on Monday. “We executed our game plan defensively almost perfectly save for a few lapses. Jimmer just made a bunch of impossible shots. We struggled a bit offensively and didn’t quite get the spacing that I wanted.”
Tiu, coaching in his first international competition, said he was particularly impressed with former two-time UAAP MVP Kiefer Ravena’s aggressiveness on the defensive end, especially in the Finals where he had the unenviable task of shadowing Fredette.
“Kiefer was great. He did everything we asked of him. In fact he had to adjust his game a lot because we had two great scorers in Al (Thornton) and Dewarick (Spencer). Otherwise I would’ve wanted him to assert himself more and be more aggressive,” explained Tiu, brther of Rain or Shine guard Chris Tiu.
“But he was really engaged defensively especially in the championship game against jimmer. He wanted the challenge and took him. Made him really work for everything and bleed for his points. That was impressive,” he added.
The six-foot Ravena, who scored 12 points against the Sharks, flew straight to Singapore after attending a workout with the NBA D-League team Texas Legends in the United States, days before the start of the Merlion Cup.
The former Ateneo star has been in the US for over a month already, undergoing training as he steps up his bid to play in the NBA.
Meantime, the runner-up finish wasn’t a bad run at all for Mighty Sports, said Tiu, considering that just last July, the team scored an eight-game sweep of the William Jones Cup in Taiwan.
Tiu said the team returns to Manila on Monday afternoon. – Richard Dy
Follow this writer on Twitter: @richava
Photo taken from Kiefer Ravena’s official Twitter account @kieferravena