19 December, 2022
25 May, 2023
Game Report
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Murphy, Saoud lead third-quarter barrage as Al Riyadi move near Semi-Finals

 BEIRUT (Lebanon) - It's not how you start but how you finish, as the old saying goes, and Al Riyadi proved to be a perfect example of that, Thursday night.

The Lebanese ball club bucked a slow start and went on a second-half rampage to tear apart the visiting Orthodox Amman, 102-83, to move just one victory away from reaching the WASL-West Asia League Semi-Finals.

New guy Kevin Murphy and Amir Saoud led the third-quarter assault, combining for 21 of the team's 41 points towards a 73-59 lead to take control for good, much to the delight of their faithful inside the Saeb Salam Stadium.

Al Riyadi could close it out in Game 2 next Thursday in Amman. A victory would forge a best-of-3 semis date with inter-city rival Beirut Club.

Game heroes: Formerly of Kazma, Murphy wasted no time announcing his WASL comeback with 27 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 5 steals.

Daniel Ochefu came through big as well with a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds, garnering majority of which in the second half as he, too, started slow that saw him go scoreless in the game's first 20 minutes.

Saoud supplied 15 points, including 10 in the third alone, on a 3-of-6 clip from beyond the arc alongside 8 assists as he led Riyadi's bench mob.

Hayk Gyokchyan made his presence felt as well with 14 points while Wael Arakji chimed in 10 markers, 3 boards, 3 dimes, and a steal.

STEP AHEAD Player of the Game: By garnering 40-percent of the votes, Saoud ran away with STEP AHEAD Player of the Game honors.

Turning point: Al Riyadi were staring at a seven-point deficit approaching the midway mark of the third until Ochefu converted inside to halt their foes' momentum.

It would, however, be the spark they've been waiting for. Saoud and Murphy joined hands afterwards to make it an 11-0 run for a 53-47 lead with under five minutes to go in the same period, and they'd stay ahead the rest of the way.

Stats don't lie: Turnovers indeed hurt Orthodox Amman as they committed 20, which Al Riyadi converted into 23 points.

The home team also pounded it more inside and taking higher-percentage shots was never a wrong idea as they scored 58 points in the paint.

They said: "I'm glad that we started this round with a win. It's very important to keep our homecourt clean. It was a tough game. I'm happy with the reaction in the second half. Defensively we stepped up, we played very good. All the players shared the ball and they find the easy shot. But what led to this is our good defense in the second half. I'm happy with our defense in the second half." - Ahmad El Farran, Head Coach, Al Riyadi

"To be honest... you never know. This career of basketball, it has taken me everywhere. I've played in a lot of places and when this job came up, I was excited to come here and play with this team, play with this coaching staff. Because I know the history of the team. I'm looking forward to winning and bringing us a championship." - Kevin Murphy, Al Riyadi

"We've always struggled during the third quarter. And I think just little details we got lackadaisical with as far as not making the right pass, maybe being a step slow ... The third and fourth quarter, they threw us off our game, they had us doing stuff we don't usually do." - Darrin Dorsey, Orthodox Amman

"I wouldn't really call it a meltdown. That's basketball. We go up, they go up. It's just a back-and-forth. We just need to figure out a way to make it more times in a game that weighs in our favor ... I would just say, just being able to keep that fire within us, probably staying more solid defensively, leading to better offense." - Freddy Ibrahim, Orthodox Amman