By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
Strong Group Philippines is fully committed to avenging its loss during last year’s edition of the 33rd Dubai International Basketball Championship.
After tapping the services of reigning UAAP Most Valuable Player (MVP) Kevin Quiambao, De La Salle University (DLSU) chief tactician Topex Robinson, and UP Fighting Maroons superstar point guard JD Cagulangan, the Philippine-based sports organization also acquired MPBL champion and MVP Justine Baltazar to join the squad in Dubai.
Fresh off a historic MPBL season with the Pampanga Giant Lanters, Baltazar is ready to fortify Strong Group’s talented frontline.
Baltazar had a dominant season in the MPBL and averaged 17.4 points, 16.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.2 blocks and showcased his improvement both in offense and defense.
This is Baltazar’s second stint with Strong Group and was a part of the unit that only settled for a quarterfinal finish last year.
Eager to find redemption, Baltazar, together with resident head coach Charles Tiu and last year’s cast of Quiambao and Cagulangan, are already undergoing training to prepare for their bounce-back tour.
Aside from the twin towers of Baltazar and Quiambao, Strong Group also added rising big man star Allen Liwag from the College of Saint Benilde Blazers.
Francis Escandor, a three-point sniper from the DLSU Green Archers, will also grace the PHL squad.
Leading the charge for the Strong Group redeem team is ex-NBA champion and Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard and former Gilas Pilipinas naturalized player Andray Blatche.
Also part of the group are ex-NBA defensive wingman Andre Roberson and import reinforcement Mckenzie Moore.
Acting as the team’s consultant is former Bay Area Dragons head coach Brian Goorjian who will work hand-in-hand with Tiu and Robinson.