Living Up to the Hype: 6 Storylines That Could Define Strong Group’s Jones Cup Campaign 

On top of parading a powerhouse squad, here’s what Strong Group’s participation in the 43rd Jones Cup should mean. 

After two straight Dubai Basketball Championships runs, Strong Group is finally heading to the Jones Cup. Featuring a mix of overseas vets and bright young stars, the team looks to snag the Philippines’ seventh Jones Cup gold when the games kick off in Taipei. 

With that in mind, here are six storylines you should follow as Strong Group represents the Philippines on another Jones Cup campaign. 

Redemption from Dubai

Heading into the Jones Cup, Strong Group will only be seven months removed from their heartbreak in Dubai last January. As Jordan Heading told The GAME,  this acts as a motivator for the team, even if there are only four holdovers from Dubai including head coach Charles Tiu. 

Now, can Strong Group finally get over the hump in Taipei? Can they avoid another heartbreak with this powerhouse group? 

Much-needed reps 
Strong Group Jones Cup: PBA Draft
(Photo Credit: UAAP Season 84 Media Team)

Three PBA draft aspirants Dave Ildefonso, Caelan Tiongson, and RJ Abarrientos will be in this Strong Group roster. With this in mind, the trio gets some much-needed competition that also gives them proper conditioning before the PBA resumes in August. 

Fans and their new teams alike get more material to assess their games. For instance, we’ll see what Dave and RJ have learned from Korea, while former Alab Pilipinas stud Caelan Tiongson returns after a long layoff from professional basketball.

If anything, it’s a win-win for these aspirants, as they get to keep themselves in condition ahead of the PBA, while representing the Philippine flag in Taipei for at least four days.  

Nice to meet you 
Strong Group Jones Cup: DJ Fenner
(Photo Credit: DJ Fenner on Facebook)
Strong Group Jones Cup: Tajuan Agee
(Photo Credit: Tajuan Agee on Facebook)

Aside from the PBA aspirants, this team also includes DJ Fenner and Tajuan Agee, players who have earned their stripes in Europe but are still strangers to the Filipino audience.

Should they perform well in the Jones Cup, we’ll likely be seeing these guys again in the future. Who knows? Fenner could even settle down in the Philippines one day, while a stroke of luck can land 26-year-old Agee as a PBA import soon.

On top of that, this is only the beginning for Strong Group. With a connection now established, these guys can easily be mainstays for the program’s future competitions provided the schedules align.

Elite names = elite unit?
(Photo Credits: Strong Group Athletics on Facebook)

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again: This Strong Group crew is a powerhouse squad. Now, it’ll be up to them to show they can work as a unit on top of being elite individual players in the Jones Cup. 

But based on what we saw, there’s already some form of chemistry between these guys. So that’s something they can build on, especially when they get in-game experience with each other in Taipei.

Third time’s a charm for Coach Charles? 

Counting his time as an assistant coach, Charles Tiu has already won two Jones Cup titles, including the Philippines’ most recent one in 2019 as head coach. Can he do that again this time with Strong Group? After all, he’s no stranger to the Jones Cup and is well aware of the tournament’s intricacies.

And if we’ll include the Dubai Basketball Championships, it’s just further proof that coach Charles can indeed weave his magic in international tournaments too.

Their own page in hoops history

Strong Group is set to follow Gilas Pilipinas’ historic OQT run heading into the Jones Cup. With that in mind, can the guys in Taipei build on the momentum from Riga? Surely the Jones Cup won’t be easy, but let’s not discount the talent we have either, on top of having a coach with extensive knowledge of the tournament. 

And if Strong Group wins in Taipei, no doubt that they’ll add to what has been a memorable July 2024 in Filipino basketball history. 

Banner Image from Strong Group Athletics on Facebook. 

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