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PH side takes first loss in Dubai tourney     

by TLD

The Philippines’ Strong Group had its offense conking out at the most critical time on Thursday to go down, 89-83, at the hands of Lebanon’s Dynamo for its first loss in the 32nd Dubai Invitational Championship at Al Nasr Club Hall in the United Arab Emirates.

That means that the Filipinos will be ranged against Al Riyadi, a fellow title favorite, in the knockout quarterfinals slated Friday morning.

“It was a tough loss, led 60 percent of the game but fell short in the last few minutes,” said coach Charles Tiu, who pointed to Dynamo’s defense as the reason for the team’s first defeat in four games. “Their zone really stifled us and slowed us down.”

Al Riyadi, which finished third in Group B with a 2-1 card and bannered by AJ Majok, a former second round pick in the NBA Draft, is the same team that Tiu’s crew defeated in the title game three years ago when the tournament was last held.

Cleanthony Early led the Dynamo with 29 points, seven of them inside the final three minutes to anchor an 11-2 finishing kick.

Shabazz Muhammad scattered 25 points to lead Strong Group, with Jerom Lastimosa shooting 14 and Nick Young, playing hurt, finishing with 11 points.

Renaldo Balkman, who was also not feeling well, contributed 10 points and nine rebounds.

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