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Strong Group completes group sweep after last-gasp win over Libya

January 25 ------ STRONG Group survived its toughest test to date against Libya's Al Ahli Tripoli, 91-89, in a nail-biting finish to remain unscathed in the 33rd Dubai International Basketball Championship on Thursday morning. Two clutch free throws from Jordan Heading, who fired a game-high 19 points on five treys, gave the Philippine side just enough room to hold on to the two-point triumph after Libyan ace Wajdi Dawo split his charities in a chaotic final sequence. Strong Group now brings a perfect 5-0 (win-loss) card to the knockout stage as the top-seeded club from Group B and willl face the eventual fourth-seeds from Group A in the quarterfinals. 


Rousing as their fifth straight victory may have been, the Strong Group wards found themselves stuck in an early 12-point hole before swiftly responding with a 12-4 counter-run and eventually stealing the lead by just one at the half. Back-and-forth the unbeaten group leaders went, but it was a heroic stand from Dwight Howard (11 of 17 points in the fourth quarter) that ultimately saved the day despite his seven costly free-throw misses in the home stretch. Al Ahli did make one final push as a late six-point spread trimmed Strong Group's lead to just one, 89-88, with exactly 30 seconds of play left. But a cool-headed fightback from Heading & Co. saw the Philippine side soar to the knockouts in style with a hard-earned triumph. 


Capping Strong Group's fine shooting night were the hot hands of an in-form Kevin Quiambao (17 points, four treys), Andre Roberson (13 points, five rebounds, and three assists), and Andray Blatche (10 points, six rebounds, and three assists). 


The scores: 

Strong Group (91) - Heading 19, Howard 17, Quiambao 17, Roberson 13, Blatche 10, Moore 7, Baltazar 3, Liwag 3, Escandor 2, Ynot 0, Cagulangan DNP, Sanchez DNP. 

Al Ahli Tripoli (89) - Badrush 27, Sadi 22, Munoz 17, West 10, Wesley 6, Dawo 5, Ramadan 2, Abdrahim 0, A Sedek 0, Alakrimi DNP, Munam M Fellah DNP, Sawie DNP. 

Quarterscores: 20-27, 51-50, 74-73, 91-89. 




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