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Strong Group outlasts Lofton-led Homenetmen to keep unbeaten slate in Dubai tourney

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Dwight Howard dunked the ball in the game between Strong Group Atheltics and Homenetmen Beirut.
Dwight Howard with his signature dunk in this play during the Strong Group Athletics' game against Lebanon's Homenetmen Beirut in the 33rd Dubai International Basketball Championship. PHOTO: Dubai Basketball Championship
Strong Group Athletics overcame its fiercest opponent in the tournament so far in Homenetmen Beirut to keep their record clean in the ongoing 33rd Dubai International Basketball Championship.
Dwight Howard exploded for 32 points, seven rebounds, and five blocks while Kevin Quiambao and Andrey Blatche added 19 and 18 markers to help SGA get its third straight win in as many matches at Zach Lofton-led Homentmen Beirut's expense, 104-95, at Al Nasr Club on Monday, January 22 (Manila time).
Despite Howard being the man of the hour, hats off to Blatche, who carried the offensive load for Charles Tiu's side in the fourth quarter, draining five of his six triples in this period.
Blacthe's treys allowed the Philippine-based squad to enjoy a 92-83 lead with 3:23 left in the final canto after trailing by one point to Beirut, 77-76, at the 7:07 mark. The former Gilas Pilipinas center went 6-of-10 in the three-point line and collected six rebounds and four assists.
Quiambao drilled a three-pointer for a 99-91 separation in the last 1:20 minutes that finished off the Lebanese cagers. The reigning UAAP Most Valuable Player shot 3/6 from beyond the arc and 7-for-12 overall in the field while listing four boards and four assists.
Howard, meanwhile, made his presence felt at 38 years old behind an almost perfect 12/13 shooting, including thunderous dunks and short hook shots, energizing the loud Filipino crowd.
Andre Roberson had 13 points and eight rebounds, while McKenzie Moore registered 12 markers, three boards, and three assists for Strong Group.
Homenetmen owned the first half after closing the opening period (24-17) and second quarter (48-42) on top before SGA came alive in the third frame.
Lofton, an ex-NBA player who played for Detroit Pistons during the 2018-2019 season, tallied a game-high 37 points on a 12/26 clip and hauled eight rebounds and seven assists in a losing effort for Beirut.
He already showed brilliance in his brief stint for Meralco Bolts in the PBA Commissioner's Cup. The 31-year-old guard averaged 35.7 points per game in his three games, including a 54-point debut match explosion against NorthPort Batang Pier.
Gerard Hadidian backstopped him with 21 points and seven rebounds, Eli Holman contributed 18 points (9/9 field goals), and DeWayne Jackson churned out 16, including four three-pointers.
SGA will take a break before facing another Lebanese team in Beirut Sports Club on Tuesday night (Wednesday, January 24, 1:15 a.m., Manila time).

Last Modified: 2024-Jan-22 13.34.30 UTC+0800