BUDDING tactician Charles Tiu will leave no stone unturned in sharing the bench with a world-renowned mentor in Brian Goorjian.

Joining forces for Strong Group Athletics, Mr. Tiu as head coach and Mr. Goorjian as consultant will steer the ship for the Philippine representative in a bid to win the 33rd Dubai International Basketball Championship slated on January 19 to 28.

“I can’t wait to work with my good friend Brian Goorjian. It’s been a long time coming. It’s a great chance for me to learn from him. He’s a legend,” said Mr. Tiu, also the College of St. Benilde mentor in the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Mr. Tiu steered Strong Group to a quarterfinal finish last year and the Mighty Sports Philippines to a historic title in 2020 to become the first non-Middle Eastern champion in Dubai.

This time for the same team owned by Frank and Jacob Lao, he will have an illustrious wing in Mr. Goorjian, best known for anchoring the first-ever bronze medal of the Australia men’s national team in the Tokyo Olympics.

But this isn’t the first time Mr. Goorjian, also six-time NBL champion and six-time NBL Coach of the Year, will be stamping his class here.

The seasoned coach, who also had stints in the Chinese Basketball Association, guided guest team Bay Area to a runner-up finish in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup last year.

Mr. Goorjian and his Hong Kong-based team dominated the elimination rounds and the playoffs before falling short against Barangay Ginebra in Game 7 of the epic finale witnessed by a record-shattering crowd of 54,589 fans at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

His resume speaks for itself, providing a massive boost for Strong Group’s redemption bid in Dubai with a bevy of equally distinguished reinforcements led by NBA champion and three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard.

“With his unparalleled coaching acumen and a wealth of experience, Brian brings an invaluable perspective to all of us,” said team owner Frank Lao.

Strong Group, which will also feature UAAP MVP Kevin Quiambao and other collegiate stalwarts, is scheduled to open training camp this weekend with the arrival of Howard and other aces in Gilas Pilipinas naturalized player Andray Blatche, Andre Roberson and McKenzie Moore. — John Bryan Ulanday