Two days before the tournament, Strong Group Realty is still in need of a big man.
Two days away from their first game at the 32nd Dubai International Basketball Championship, Philippine-based team Strong Group Realty has yet to secure a replacement for their star center Ange Kouame. The two-time UAAP MVP had been out due to dengue, prompting Strong Group head coach Charles Tiu to look for a substitute. His first options were Justin Brownlee and Andray Blatche, but both were unavailable.
Tiu then turned his attention to DLSU standout and Gilas pool member Kevin Quiambao. The UAAP Season 85 Rookie of the Year seemed like a good choice, given his impressive skill set. The thing is, KQ joining Strong Group is still not a done deal due to issues with his legal documents.
“Hindi pa. Wala pa visa. May passport issues sa expiry. So, let’s see,” head coach Charles Tiu told OneSports.ph on Wednesday.
While the 21-year-old Green Archer’s status with Strong Group is still up in the air, the Jacob Lao-owned ball club is forced to soldier on. Today, they will have their last tune-up match before flying to the Middle East. Playing shorthanded, Strong Group will look to gain momentum with an impressive showing against ASEAN Basketball League squad, the Zamboanga Valientes.
Coach Tiu and his charges will take on the United Arab Emirates national squad for their first outing in Dubai, to be held on January 27. The entire tournament will run until February 5.
Should Strong Group manage to take home the top prize despite a shaky build-up, it would mean a team from the Philippines had won the tourney in back-to-back fashion.