Al Riyadi weather Beirut Club storm, sweep way to West Asia Final
BEIRUT (Lebanon) - Al Riyadi showed grace under pressure in weathering Beirut Club's late rally, 102-92, to book the first flight to the WASL-West Asia Final, Wednesday night at the Saeb Salam Stadium in Manara.
Duop Reath and Kevin Murphy captained the 13-2 run that took the wind out of the visitors' sails as the two exemplified composure to save their side after seeing their 24-point lead become just four, 89-85, with 4:34 left to play.
That strong finish, of course, left the ever-appreciative home crowd in total jubilation as their team ended the West Asia title hopes of the very same ball club that foiled their golden bid in last season's Lebanese league championship.
Al Riyadi will now wait for the winner between Gorgan and ZobAhan for their opponents in the Finals. Gorgan lead the series, 1-0, and have the opportunity to close it out on Thursday night at the Azadi Basketball Hall in Tehran.
The losing side of that all-Iranian pairing will be Beirut Club's foe in the Third-Place Game, where a ticket to the Final 8 awaits the winner.
Game heroes: Murphy led Al Riyadi with a new season-high 30 points on an efficient 10-of-13 shooting from the floor, including a 4-of-6 clip from beyond the arc.
Reath notched a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds, together with 3 blocks to to impress in his first WASL home game. Karim Zeinoun supplied 17 points, on top of his 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and a game-high 3 steals.
Wael Arakji came through with 13 points and 9 assists, while Amir Saoud added 11 iff the bench as five players finished in double figures in the triumph.
STEP AHEAD Player of the Game: Zeinoun, the one who capped off the aforementioned run with a triple as their response to Beirut Club's fightback, earned STEP AHEAD Player of the Game honors as he got 39-percent of the fan votes.
Turning point: Al Riyadi took the lead for good in the second quarter, erupting for 36 big points on the way to establishing a 63-44 lead at the half. Twenty-five of their output in the said period came from Saoud, Arakji, and Murphy.
And by pouring 63, the Lebanese side has tied the WASL all-time record for most points in the first half set by Gulf team Al Hilal earlier in the season.
Stats don't lie: Al Riyadi shared the ball exquisitely and eventually finished with 27 assists, which led to a 55-percent shooting clip from the field that included 12 3-pointers made. They also got 24 points off the opposition's 13 turnovers.
They said: "I'm very proud from the first year of this competition, we reached the Final of WABA and we are in the Final 8. We are very proud of it. We are trying to achieve what the management and the president of Riyadi put for us as goals. We are doing all our best to go all the way in this tournament especially when we go to the Final 8. We are also targeting to reach the Final and win the first edition of this great, great league. We are happy." - Ahmad El Farran, Head Coach, Al Riyadi
"When I re-signed with Riyadi, I promised that we will get to the Final of every championship we play, and this is what we've been doing. Thankfully we got to the Dubai Final and we won, and now we're in the Finals of WASL. We're gonna do the same. And I promise our fans that we will be winning the West Asia Super League as well." - Wael Arakji, Al Riyadi
"It's a long season. WASL has been a long time. We had injuries, we have two players injured, we changed imports. It's hard to build chemistry and go a long way with not a lot of chemistry. We're out of luck. Hopefully we can get it next year." - Ali Haidar, Beirut Club
"I also second Ali. We ended up facing Riyadi in the Semis. As Ali mentioned, they have a great team, great players; their imports have made the big difference to the team. It's not the end of the road. We can still make it to the Final 8 of WASL. Our target is to win that game and qualify to the Final 8." - Ahmad Yamout, Head Coach, Beirut Club