Shorthanded TNT to face Stephenson, Liaoning in Terrific 12 opener

The TNT KaTropa will square off with Chinese Basketball Association powerhouse squad Liaoning Flying Leopards on the opening day of the Terrific 12 tournament in Macau on September 17.

TNT will have it hands full since Liaoning will have two experienced imports in Lance Stephenson and Tunisian center Salah Mejri, who played four seasons with the Dallas Mavericks.

Stephenson played nine years in the NBA, most recently with the Los Angeles Lakers. Mejri, meanwhile, played four seasons with the Dallas Mavericks, averaging 3.4 points and 4.0 rebounds in 204 games.

"Our plan is to win the championship so that momentum will help us as a club heading into the regular season," Stephenson said in an official statement released to media. "I can't wait to play in The Terrific 12 with my new teammates. I'm excited to play in such a great tournament this early in the season. It should really help us unite as a team and help me acclimate to this new style of play more easily."

TNT, though, will face Liaoning shorthanded with Ryan Reyes, Kelly Williams and Anthony Semerad still recovering from various injuries. Reyes has been dealing with a calf injury, Williams has a back problem, while Semerad is still recuperating from an injured shoulder he suffered during their Commissioner's Cup semifinal series versus Barangay Ginebra.

"If we can win games over there, that would be great, but you know that our preparation is to get the team ready also for the PBA third conference," Ravena told ESPN5 on Tuesday. "But due to our situation, and the injured players we have, we haven't practice as a complete team."

Troy Rosario and Roger Pogoy arrived in Manila Tuesday, along with the rest of Gilas Pilipinas, after their stint in the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.

Ravena said he will give the two national team members some time to recover, but expects them to see action in Macau.

"Troy and Roger, they need to be well-rested since they are coming from FIBA. We want them to rest since they played several games and have played non-stop since the PBA (Commissioner's Cup)," he said.

TNT team manager Gabby Cui said their Terrific 12 import, McKenzie Moore, is arriving Wednesday night and will report for practice on Thursday.

The 6-6 Moore won the 2016 NBL MVP award when he played for the Canterbury Rams. He averaged 22.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 8.0 assists and 3.4 steals per game in 13 games.

TNT's other import, KJ McDaniels, is a legitimate NBA veteran who averaged 5.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in 148 total games from 2015 to 2017. He played for the Philadelphia 76ers in his rookie season, before moving to the Houston Rockets and later the Brooklyn Nets.