Chemistry will be the key in Strong Group’s quest to win the 32nd Dubai International Basketball Championships taking place from 27 January to 5 February in the United Arab Emirates.
Head coach Charles Tiu, appearing in The Athletes’ Tribune, expressed belief that familiarization will play a vital role in the bid to regain the crown that the Philippine last won two years ago under the banner of Mighty Sports.
The Jacob Lao-owned Strong Group squad recently signed up Season 98 National Collegiate Athletic Association Most Valuable Player Will Gozum of Saint Benilde along with Justine Baltazar and Ateneo de Manila University’s BJ Andrade and Inand Fornillos.
Also joining the team are Nick Young, who was a member of the Golden State Warriors squad that won the National Basketball Association in 2018.
Filipino-American Sedrick Barefield and Renaldo Balkman of Puerto Rico, a former Philippine Basketball Association import and Mighty Sports standout.
“I think it is always important to have the familiarity to build chemistry as quickly as you can. We just try to make the most of our situation,” said Tiu, who is also the head coach for the Blazers in the NCAA.
“That’s something we have to build as a staff to get guys to be familiar with each other. We can’t do much in such a short time but it’s one of the biggest challenges we have to face and hopefully we find a way to get it done.”
Most of the players of the team have either some sort of connection with each other or with Tiu.
Andrade and Fornillos have been teammates with Kouame and Lao in the Blue Eagles last year while Gozum and Balkman played for Tiu in Saint Benilde and Mighty Sports, respectively.
Training for the Dubai tilt could start 10 January but Tiu said he has yet to announce the members of his coaching staff aside from team owner Lao.
Tiu said he is planning to bring former Blazers head coach TY Tang on board and floated the possibility of bringing back some members of his 2020 coaching staff.