- Nick Young is part of the Philippines team in the Dubai International Basketball Championship
- Young will team up with former NBA veterans Shabazz Muhammad and Renaldo Balkman
- Head coach Charles Tiu praises what Young brings to the team
Former NBA veteran Nick Young surprised the international basketball scene when it was announced he had sign with the Philippines-based Strong Group ahead of the 32nd Dubai International Basketball Championship.
The International Basketball Times was able to attend the practice they held behind closed doors in Manila, Philippines on Thursday, January 12, and speak with team staff about Young’s impact on the team so far.
“This is our third practice with him, actually. Whatever you see on TV, that’s how he really is in person. He’s very energetic and laid back, but he’s also very kind and approachable. He’s not the snobby type at all,” noted collegiate BJ Andrade said.
His comments were backed up by his college teammate and Strong Group team owner Jacob Lao, who noted that the whole team, especially the youngsters who want to play overseas, are staying tuned to what’s going on. Young has to tell them.
“You would want to glean knowledge from him (Young) since this guy comes from the NBA and he comes from good coaches, good systems,” Lao told IBTimes.
Serious but light, intense but jovial. These are some of the words that can be used to describe the mood during training as they work to build their team chemistry.
Young, in particular, showed off his full arsenal as he swept the ball across the net with ease, whether on back threes, catching and shooting opportunities or his own efforts.
Besides his world-renowned goalscoring abilities, the 37-year-old Young was more than happy to spread the wealth by finding collegiate snipers like Migs Oczon and Jerom Lastimosa wide open to create goalscoring opportunities for others.
The former Los Angeles Lakers guard was also lively in his interactions with new teammates, especially fellow NBA veteran Shabazz Muhammad.
Muhammad, who was imported into the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), was more than happy to reunite with his opponent and even recalled fond memories of their time together in the big leagues.
“When I heard Nick was going to play with me, I was really excited about it. He’s been with the Lakers, he’s played with Kobe [Bryant] and I got to share the pitch with him and Kobe, especially when Kobe passed Michael Jordan on the scoring list, so that was pretty special for me. We both gotta share this moment, but now we gotta go play [in Dubai] and I hope to win that,” a gleeful Muhammad shared.
The team will once again be coached by Charles Tiu, who led the Philippines to the Dubai title in 2020 and has also spoken highly of Young.
“Nick Young has been a good guy so far. No complaints. He works hard, he does his best,” Tiu said.
“He can still shoot, there’s no doubt about it, but the other aspects of his game are still slowly coming out as he gets fitter. We still have time to do that.”
Under the banner of Young and Muhammad, Strong Group is comprised of the Philippines’ brightest young stars like Andrade, Oczon, Lastimosa, Korean Basketball League-linked Justine Baltazar, naturalized Filipino Ange Kouame and former importer of PBA Renaldo Balkman as they seek to defend their Dubai crown. .