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Former LA Lakers guard Young sizzles as Strong Group holds off UAE


Strong Group bucked a slow start in the opening frame and needed a huge spark from former Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young to hack out a 91-87 win over host United Arab Emirates national squad in opening day of the 32nd Dubai International Basketball Championship late Friday night at the Al-Nasr Club Hall.

The Philippine club team trail, 19-27 after the first period. But the 37-year-old Young caught fire from there, converting a four-point play and a couple of mid-range jumpers to help the Charles Tiu-coach side regain control with a 32-29 lead, 7:40 to go in the second canto.

With momentum on their side, Shabazz Muhammad, one of Strong Group’s three NBA veterans came alive on offense with the help of Fil-American playmaker Sedrick Barefield.

Barefield, who played for the Oklahoma City Blue in the G League last year, made two big assists that saw Muhammad come down with an authoritative dunk, and moments later, a long three-point bomb to give Strong Group a 52-39 lead.

The Philippine club team erected its largest advantage at 70-50 on a triple by BJ Andrade.

UAE veteran forward Omar Alshabebi though kept the game more interesting as he led the host squad’s gigantic rally in the second half to close in at 87-90 on an unmolested layup with just 14 seconds to go.

Barefield then, split his foul shots, while UAE missed its last two desperation attempts from beyond the arc as time expired, sending a huge Filipino crowd of supporters in a frenzied celebration at the venue.

“I thought we had the game in the bag up 14 in the last two minutes, and I was thinking ahead wanting to rest our imports for the game tomorrow,” said Tiu after the game.

“Our all-Filipino line up didn’t do too well down the stretch. We need to do a better job of taking the ball, rebounding and getting back on defense. Those are the key areas we struggle with,” he added.

Muhammad, who reinforced San Miguel Beer in the Governors’ Cup last season, led Strong Group with 24 points, seven rebounds and four assists while Barefield chipped in 23, along with five rebounds and five assists.

Young finished with 13 points while Renaldo Balkman, another NBA veteran, added 12 and 11 boards.

The 31-year-old Alshabebi led UAE’s losing stand with 33 while American guard Julius Coles added 15.

Strong Group shoots for a second straight win on Sunday, January 29, when it collides with Al Nasr Libya at 1 a.m. (Manila time)

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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