THE Strong Group Athletics suffered a heartbreaking 77-74 loss to Al-Riyadi to finish as the runners-up of the 33rd Dubai International Basketball Championship on Monday morning, Jan. 29, 2024 at the Al-Nasr Club.
The Philippine side trailed by as much as 19 points but rallied to tie the game up at 74-all after a three-pointer by Jordan Heading with 1:03 remaining. The two teams traded misses, but it was Andre Roberson’s misfire from the top of the arc that proved painful.
The loose ball was recovered by tournament MVP Wael Arakji, who dribbled up the floor, drove into the teeth of the defense and kicked the ball out to veteran Ismail Abdelmoneim, who caught it and fired in a triple that found nothing but the bottom of the net before the final buzzer to give Al-Riyadi the win and their second straight title in this tournament.
Things looked bleak for the Strong Group as they trailed 51-32 early in the third period. However, they recovered and even took a 65-61 lead after consecutive three-pointers from Heading and Roberson, setting the stage for the game’s fiery finish.
Roberson led the Strong Group with 24 points and 13 rebounds, while Dwight Howard had 18 points and 12 boards. Heading added 17 points, but the biggest non-factor of the game was the team’s leading scorer, Kevin Quiambao. He finished scoreless on only five attempts despite playing 37 minutes. / JNP