09 - 17
June 2023
16 Wael Arakji (RIY)
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Big blow for Al Riyadi as Arakji, Mansour ruled out of Final 8 due to injuries

DUBAI (United Arab Emirates) - Al Riyadi will have to continue their FIBA West Asia Super League (WASL) Final 8 journey without two key cogs.

Head coach Ahmad El Farran disclosed that both Wael Arakji and Ali Mansour are out for a month as his point guards went down with injuries one after the other.

Mansour suffered a broken bone on his knee in their 112-84 debut win over Manama last 10 June. The 25-year-old got hurt barely four minutes into the second quarter after blocking counterpart Mohamed Nowrooz's layup attempt.

Arakji, on the other hand, was found to have sustained a grade 2 calf tear as per MRI results. He incurred the injury just minutes into their eventual 106-91 victory over Beirut Club on 12 June right after converting a three-pointer.

The development is indeed a big blow to the Lebanese powerhouse, who are looking to follow-up their FIBA WASL-West Asia conquest by winning the Final 8 being held in Dubai.

"We don't have any more point guards to continue," lamented Farran, who was compelled to use Amir Saoud in running the one-spot more against Beirut Club.

It does not help as well that Al Riyadi got into such a predicament knowing that they have already qualified for the knockout crossover Semis on Friday, where they will be facing either the unbeaten WASL-Gulf champions Kuwait Club or BC Astana.

Kuwait Club and Astana will play each other Tuesday for the Group B top seed. Loser will settle for the no. 2 spot and will face Al Riyadi.

"They are big teams," Farran offered regarding their possible foes. "Kuwait until now hasn't lost in this tournament. They have three perfect foreigners, they have very good locals. Most of the national team of Kuwait [have been] playing together for years."

"As for Astana, a high level team coming from the VTB League; they play in Europe, which is high level. Both teams are very good. Both teams are ready with full rosters to fight until the end," added the champion bench tactician.

Still, Farran refuses to back down, remaining optimistic as he's banking on their familiarity to dealing with adversities such as injuries.

"We will be ready to play and keep our chances," he said. "We are in the middle of the tournament so we are very optimistic and we trust our players and our team. We are used to these situations so it's just a matter of time to find our way."