Jordan Heading Looks To Heal Dubai Loss With Jones Cup Trophy

Jordan Heading Hopes To Heal Strong Group’s Heartbreak In Dubai With Jones Cup Title 

Jordan Heading returns to Strong Group Athletics as it tries to win the Philippines’ seventh championship in the Jones Cup. 

As Strong Group Athletics (SGA) gears up for the 43rd William Jones Cup, part of their powerhouse squad is none other than sharpshooter Jordan Heading. No stranger to Filipino fans, Heading is on his second SGA call-up following the Dubai Basketball Championship last January. 

This time around, Heading links up with fan favorites such as Kiefer Ravena, Rhenz Abando, and Ange Kouame, as well as fresh faces including Fil-Am guard DJ Fenner, big man Tajuan Agee, and PBA Draft aspirant Caelan Tiongson. 

“I thought we had a really good group last time [Dubai]. But this time [for Jones Cup], I think we’ve taken it to another level. We have so much depth and so much experience. And in just our practices, from day one, the pace was there, the intensity was there. We all really want this thing,” Heading told The GAME in an exclusive interview. 

Heading also acknowledged how Strong Group’s Dubai campaign provides added motivation for the Jones Cup. To recall, SGA had been dominant in the Middle East tilt, only to lose at the buzzer against Al Riyadi in the finals for a silver medal finish.

Today, it’s a shared heartbreak within the Strong Group camp, even with a new-look squad according to Jordan Heading. 

“Many of these guys weren’t on that team that was with us in Dubai and we lost in the buzzer, I think they still [knew] we were still representing the Philippines, so everyone’s still taking that as motivation,” he shared. 

“And obviously, myself, Charles [Tiu], Allen [Liwag], Tony [Ynot]  all the guys that were there in that [Dubai] tournament, you know, we’re thinking back to that. We remember that. And we want to go get this chip.” 

Jordan Heading in practice
(Photo Credit: SGA on Facebook)

Starting July 13, Heading and Strong Group will attempt to win the Philippines 7th Jones Cup title, and the second overall for head coach Charles Tiu. If they do so, SGA will further cement the Philippines’ status as second-winningest country in the international meet.

There’s also the privilege of repping Pinoy Pride internationally, which allows them to play “in front of all the kababayans wherever we are” according to Heading.

“We always love seeing the Filipino flags in the crowd, and seeing our countrymen and women out there, and yeah, so it’s going to be the same thing [whether Strong Group or Gilas Pilipinas],” he said.

Heading also expressed confidence towards the squad once more: “There’s a lot of us that have Gilas experience on this team and international experience. And we’re going to take that with us to the Jones Cup.” 

No love lost for Gilas 

While he’s excited to rep Strong Group, Jordan Heading also set the record straight on his status with Gilas Pilipinas’ OQT crew. Apparently, the Fil-Australian gunner had been eyed to replace Scottie Thompson, who went down due to a nagging back injury. 

Unfortunately, Gilas contacted Heading about “the week leading up to the [Calamba] bubble”, with the expectation that he’ll leave Australia within four days. By this time, Heading and his wife were already working with a fertility specialist in the hopes of finally starting a family. 

“By the time that they [Gilas] had called, we were in the middle of a cycle working with them [fertility specialist]. And I called them up and we were trying to see if there was anything that we could do to speed up [the process]…But unfortunately, we were too deep into the cycle. We’d already started it and everything,” Heading revealed. 

“Family comes first. This is something [having a baby] that my wife and I have been trying for a long time. And I told Coach Tim, as I’ve said before, if there was anything else, I could have dropped it.” 

In contrast to Gilas, Heading had already been tapped by Tiu as early as April, which allowed him to adjust his schedule accordingly. Heading, though, was clear that he would have declined Tiu’s invite if it was also last minute due to the same family matter.

Regardless, this is now water under the bridge for Heading, who hopes to be in Cone’s long-term plans after Riga. On top of acknowledging possible reasons, the sharpshooter shared that Cone “was a man” about the whole situation. 

“He understood that it was more than basketball. And he understands that I still 100 percent want to play for Gilas. And he was really happy to hear that. So he knows that my intention, if asked, is to suit up again.” 

But for now, Jordan Heading turns his focus to the Jones Cup, where his sharpshooting and ball-handling will undoubtedly help Strong Group’s attempt to win it all in Taipei.

Banner Image from Strong Group Athletics on Facebook.

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