24 - 29
September 2019
16 Wael Arakji (RIY)
Game Report
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Riyadi-culous finish once again as Arakji nails buzzer-beating game-winner over Alvark Tokyo

BANGKOK (Thailand) - Wael Arakji does it again by drilling the buzzer-beating go-ahead jump shot for another thrilling win for Al Riyadi, 77-75, over Alvark Tokyo.

2018 finalists, Alvark Tokyo, were down by 10 points at the halftime buzzer, but rallied back to within 3 points heading into the final quarter. The game went back and forth from there with no team leading by more than 4 points in the last 7 minutes.

Miguel Martinez knocked down two clutch free-throws to give Riyadi a 3 point lead with less than 20 seconds on the clock, but Genki Kojima knocked down an off-balance bank shot three-pointer to tie things up and drive the suspense.

The ball went back to the hands of Wael Arakji who coolly sinked a mid-range jumper for the win.

“This was one of the best games I’ve been a part of because we fought to the end,” Jean Abd El Nour said after the game. “I know they hit a lucky shot but we hit a better shot after that from that. Hopefully we can win tomorrow to finish on a good point and get ready for the Semi-finals.”

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Riyadi had just gone through another exciting matchup down to the wire the previous day, but were still mentally tough enough to pull through for another close win. Their second straight win gives them the sole possession of the top spot in Group B.

“Basketball, sometimes, the body has stopped and is tired. I know [well]. I am 35 years old and played 43 minutes last night and 37 minutes today,” Abd El Nour said. “but if you think in your head that you are tired, then you are going to be tired. In your head, you don’t have to be tired.”

“This is what champions are made of,” The Riyadi player of 12 years added. “If you are mentally weak you can’t play this game. You have to be mentally strong on both ends.”

“I saw a couple of my teammates they were exhausted in the last two minutes, but we kept pushing and jumping and pushing and jumping and we got this win.”

“This is what championship teams are made of. We are fighters and we want to keep fighting till we win.”

Riyadi were led in scoring by Willie Warren who had 23 points in the game, with 16 coming in the first half. Arakji then picked up the slack with 12 in the second half and the two most important points of the game in the final play.
“Last two years - this year and last year - Wael [Arakji] is growing to be more mature in a great way,” said coach ahmad El Farran of his star guard. “I wish he will keep improving and keep proving that one day he will be one of the best guards in Asia.

“He still has a lot of process to reach a higher and higher level, but he’s on the right track.

"We’re lucky to have him with us on the team.”

The result is a complete turnaround from last year where Alvark beat Riyadi 87-76 in their opening game of the competition.

“We didn’t get a hand on this game and it was decided on the last second shot in the favor of the opponent. I congratulate them. They deserve it,” said Alvark coach Luka Pavicevic.

Nearly the hero of the game, Genki Kojima had a solid outing of 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. Milan Mačvan also had a good performance in his second game with key shots in the second half to finish with 15 points and 12 boards.

Alvark will need to regroup quickly ahead of their game against Hyundai Mobis at 13:00 (GMT +7) on the following day in a game that could decide which team advances to the Semi-finals. Al Riyadi will have to finish the job on their end as well against Guangdong Southern Tigers after that at 20:30 (GMT +7).