Former NBA star Dwight Howard set to reinforce Strong Group PHL in Dubai

Dwight Howard is the latest import reported to play for Strong Group Philippines in Dubai (Cole Burston/Getty Images)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

Strong Group Philippines just landed its biggest reinforcement so far in the upcoming 2024 Dubai International Basketball Championship.

Welcome to the PHL, Dwight Howard.

This is not a drill. According to veteran NBA insider Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, Howard is set to beef up the PHL-based basketball club from January 19 to January 28, 2023, to be held in the United Arab Emirates.

Howard, an eight-time NBA All-Star and a former Defensive Player of the Year, will look to lead Strong Group to a title finish after falling short during the last edition of the Dubai hoops tournament.

Before agreeing to a deal with Strong Group, Howard last suited up for the Taoyuan Leopards in the T1 Basketball League of Taiwan.

Howard was still hoping to ink an NBA contract and even worked out for some teams but still failed to secure a deal. He then flew to Taiwan after signing with the Leopards and averaged 23.2 points, 16.2 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game.

The former Orlando Magic franchise player is the first import to commit to Strong Group and will fly to the Philippines anytime soon for the team practices.

Last year, Strong Group recruited Nick Young, Shabazz Muhammad, and Renaldo Balkman to reinforce its squad but the team failed to reach the grand finals of the prestigious tournament.

Despite the stacked lineup they deployed, Strong Group only managed to secure a quarterfinal spot and lost to Al Riyadi Beirut in the elimination match, 106-97.

Head coach Charles Tiu then didn’t hold back after the loss and slammed the officiating as he claimed that they were “cooked”.

“Painful and frustrating loss for us. Couldn’t stop Saoud today no matter what we did. Just too experienced for our team right now. Offense wasn’t the problem but couldn’t get stops. Didn’t help that we got cooked badly. I don’t know what game the refs were watching,” posted Tiu on his social media account.

Now with the addition of an NBA talent like Howard, Strong Group is expected to reclaim its lost glory in Dubai.