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Collegiate stars beef up strong Group for Dubai tournament

ADAMSON UNIVERSITY star player Jerom Lastimosa — PHILIPPINE STAR/RUSSELL PALMA

PHILIPPINE contingent Strong Group further beefed up its already stacked line-up for its upcoming Dubai tilt, adding a bevy of collegiate stalwarts led by Adamson’s Jerom Lastimosa.

Mr. Lastimosa is joined by University of the Philippines’ JD Cagulangan, College of St. Benilde’s (CSB) Miguel Oczon and former Ateneo high school standout Lebron Lopez as the latest additions to the squad owned by Jacob Lao.

Mr. Lao, a former Ateneo player himself and incoming Converge assistant manager in the PBA, played with Messrs. Cagulangan and Lopez for La Salle Greenhills in the NCAA juniors — making it a sweet reunion in the Dubai International Basketball Championship on Jan. 27 to Feb. 5.

“It’s a mini reunion of some sorts for the LSGH boys,” said Mr. Lao, the country’s youngest basketball executive at only 22 years old.

His latest recruits shored up an already formidable squad led by imports Nick Young, Shabazz Muhammad and Renaldo Balkman, who were all former NBA players.

Gilas Pilipinas naturalized player Ange Kouame, BJ Andrade and Inand Fornillos of Ateneo, former La Salle ace Justine Baltazar, Fil-American prospect Sedrick Barefield and NCAA MVP Will Gozum of CSB are also in the fray of Strong Group.

Blazers mentor Charles Tiu will call the shots for Strong Group in a bid to replicate the championship of Mighty Sports, also under his watch, in the 2020 Dubai tourney.

Mighty Sports before the pandemic completed a 7-0 sweep to become the first non-Middle Eastern team to win in Dubai with Balkman and former Gilas cager Andray Blatche then leading the way. — John Bryan Ulanday

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