by Jonas Terrado
Game Friday (Changhua, Taiwan)
3 p.m. — Indonesia vs Philippines
Mighty Sports-Go for Gold Philippines enhanced its chances of winning a second title after producing a character-building 89-82 win over South Korea in the 41st William Jones Cup Tuesday at the Changhua County Stadium in Changhua, Taiwan.
The Charles Tiu-coached squad lost a 13-point halftime lead in the third but imports Zach Graham, Hamady Ndiaye and Renaldo Balkman and McKenzie Moore launched a fightback in the fourth quarter on their way to claiming victory.
Balkman finished with 19 points and eight rebounds, Graham scored 16 points and Moore added 17 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals for the HealthCube-backed Mighty, which gained the solo lead by staying unbeaten after five games.
Regular PBA import Eugene Phelps, the team’s most-consistent performer, added 14 points.
The hard-fought triumph against the same Korean roster that will be fielded in the FIBA World Cup in China put the Philippine club three victories shy of completing a sweep and repeat its title run in 2016.
Mighty takes a two-day rest before resuming its title drive on Friday against Indonesia followed by hosts Taiwan-A and Taiwan-B this weekend.
Former PBA import Ricardo Ratliffe, also known as Gu Na Ra, had 24 points and 11 rebounds but South Korea dropped to second place at 4-1.
The team outscored Korea, 28-17, in the second with Phelps and Moore combining for 17 points to build a 51-38 lead.
But Mighty went cold in the third, going 3-of-14 from the field while scoring just nine points even as Ratliffe eight points and six rebounds in that period to put South Korea ahead 66-60 going into the fourth.
Korea led 70-62 in the final period when Mighty went on a 21-4 run, ending on an Ndiaye jam for 83-74 with 1:28 left in the fourth.
MIGHTY SPORTS 89 — Balkman 19, Moore 17, Graham 16, Phelps 14, Gray 7, Ndiaye 6, Williams 5, Adams 3, Brickman 2.
SOUTH KOREA 82 — Ratliffe 24, J.Y. Choi 14, D.S. Lee 11, J.Y. Lee 11, Heo 9, S.H. Lee 5, S.Y. Kim 4, J.K. Kim 4, Song 0.
Quarters: 23-21; 51-38; 60-66; 89-82.