Balkman, Blatche were guiding light in Mighty's Dubai title run

Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Feb 07, 2020 05:35 PM
Balkman, Blatche were guiding light in Mighty's title run
(Photos courtesy of Mighty-Pilipinas)

Mighty Sports-Pilipinas gathered many of the top young talent in the Philippines and got them to the 2020 Dubai International Basketball Tournament.

With Isaac Go, Dave Ildefonso, Jamie Malonzo, Thirdy Ravena, and Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan, the Filipino side, indeed, gave a glimpse of the future of the national team.

Still, that young yet talented core wouldn't have gone anywhere without the push of NBA veterans Renaldo Balkman and Andray Blatche. "We're very honored to win this tournament. It was a tough tournament that I think was tougher than last year," head coach Charles Tiu said, referring to the 2019 iteration of the invitational tourney where they settled for third.

He then continued, "The players did a great job. Andray and Renaldo, they showed us why they're NBA players."

In particular, Coach Charles said that Blatche, long a source of scrutiny from the time he was naturalized, showed the way and his teammates only followed suit. As he put it, "Andray surprised me a lot. When he was playing for the national team, you hear a lot of things about Andray Blatche - some positive, some negative, but he was a good guy, no attitude."

He then continued, "Whatever he had to do, he was there. That just rubbed off on the team. You're supposed to be the best player on the team and he had no excuses so how could anybody make excuses."

For his part, Balkman further added to his personal tale of redemption. "Balkman, again, before getting him, I was very apprehensive, very worried about his history, but after that, I was like, 'Wow! This guy is just a pro,'" the Mighty mentor said.

In the end, Balkman and Blatche were both the engine and the fuel that boosted the Filipinos, with its young yet talented core, to a breakthrough championship. "These two guys really set the tone for the team. Without them, we would not win this tournament," Coach Charles said.

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Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo.

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