Mighty Sports-Creative Pacific went hot in the third quarter and coasted to a 91-77 win over last year’s runner-up Beirut Sports Club to top its group elims in the tough 31st Dubai International Basketball Championship late Tuesday at the Shabab Al Ahli Club in the United Arab Emirates.
Fil-Am Mikey Williams anchored that onslaught, scoring 11 of his team-high 22 points on a remarkable 6-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc as Mighty Sports-Creative Pacific finished the Group B elims with a perfect 4-0 record.
Playing his finest game so far, the 6-foot-1 Williams also produced four assists and the same number of rebounds in a performance that underscored the team’s desire to improve on its bronze medal finish last year.
The four-game sweep likewise gave the team backed by Go for Gold, Discovery Primea and Gatorade an extra motivation going to the knockout quarterfinals on Thursday.
The team, which takes a break Wednesday, battles the No. 4 squad of Group A.
Coach Charles Tiu was hardly surprised with Williams’ solid all-around performance, saying: “Mikey once again proved he’s a streak shooter. He caught fire when we need it badly. Another good win for us.”
While Williams was knocking in treys with wild abandon, barrel-chested import Renaldo Balkman imposed his will inside that saw the team co-owned by Alexander Wongchuking of Mighty Sports and Bong Cuevas of Creative Pacific erase a 37-36 halftime deficit on the way to taking a 69-54 advantage going into the payoff period.
“Everybody played well tonight, especially Mikey. He was simply hot,” said Wongchuking.
Balkman tallied 20 points, four rebounds and two assists that more than made up for his two turnovers while Andray Blatched had a quiet 12-point, 13-rebound show.
The Lebanese did try to stage a comeback but McKenzie Moore exploded just in time, scoring seven straight points to help Mighty Sports-Creative Pacific seal the deal, 85-70, with a little over two minutes left in the game.
Moore, who also played a key role in Mighty Sports’ title sweep of the Jones Cup last year, chipped in 14 points off the bench.
Mighty Sports-Creative (91) •Williams 22, Balkman 20, Moore 14, Blatche 12, Malonzo 10, Kendrick 6, Ravena 5, Go 2, Yeo 0, Ju. Gomez de Liano 0, Ildefonso 0, Belga
Beirut SC (77) “Johnson 30, Rustom 19, Hawkins 11, Mehzer 5, Chamoun 5, Ezzaddine 3, Aboud 2, Ziade 2, Abdel Masih 0
Quarterscores: 21-24, 36-37, 69-54, 91-77.