Will Gozum joins Strong Group

Will Gozum, the NCAA Most Valuable Player from College of Saint Benilde, beefs up Strong Group in the Dubai International Championships set to blast off late this month. Photo by Rio Deluvio

Reigning National Collegiate Athletic Association Most Valuable Player Will Gozum brings his talent to the international stage after signing with Strong Group for the 2023 Dubai International Championship slated to begin this month.

The 6-foot-7 forward was one of the four new recruits who inked a deal with the club for the tournament that will run from 27 January to 5 February.

Gozum, whose dazzling performance led College of Saint Benilde to a runner-up finish in NCAA Season 98, however, would have to prove his mettle to earn his minutes with imports Nick Young and Renaldo Balkman also playing his position.

“Will will have to compete with the other guys for his minutes,” said head coach Charles Tiu of his main gunner in Saint Benilde.

“It’s a whole different ball game and he’s playing the same position as the imports, but let’s see how he will fare,” he added.

Joining Gozum as the latest signees of the Jacob Lao-owned club, which sets its sights on replicating the 2020 title run of Mighty Sports, are Justine Baltazar and Ateneo de Manila University standouts BJ Andrade and Inand Fornilos.

Baltazar gets another chance of showcasing his wares abroad after a brief stint for Hiroshima Dragonflies in the Japan B.League. He came back to the country to play for Pampanga G Lanterns in the Pilipinas Super League.

“Balti is going to be big for us, he wasn’t given much of a chance in Japan but the kid is a great player and I plan to use him as a big wing and power forward, but of course, it all remains to be seen on how it will look when we start practicing,” Tiu said.

Andrade and Fornilos, meanwhile, reunite with naturalized player Ange Kouame after leading the Blue Eagles to the University Athletic Association of the Philippines Season 85 championship.

“Balti will finally get that chance to prove himself again in a very competitive tournament so I’m very excited for him,” Lao said in a statement.

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