Riyadi get revenge despite Sosa scoring WASL record 46 points
BEIRUT (Lebanon) - Al Riyadi learn from their mistakes to get revenge on Al Naft in 107-98 win despite a WASL-high of 46 points.
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Al Riyadi came out of the gates hitting hard against Al Naft, showing how determined they were to get their revenge. Just in the first quarter, they built up a lead of as much as 10 points much to the joy of the raucous crowd at the Saeb Salam.
That did not last long as Al Naft roared back with a 12-0 run that spanned into the second quarter to reclaim the lead. It was a quick reminder to Al Riyadi and their players of the first encounter between these two teams that saw the Iraqi club lead for most of the game. And once again, at the center of it was Edgar Sosa who scored 29 points at the half.
The concerns piled on for the home team as new addition Daniel Ochefu was left on the bench from the middle of the second quarter onwards after suffering what appeared to be an ankle injury.
It was a flashback to the first game between the two teams where Sosa torched the Riyadi defense for 35 points. However, it seems that Riyadi had learned their lesson and came out of the locker room prepared to stop the flamethrowing sharpshooter.
Sosa eventually finished the game with 46 points, but Riyadi took turns making his time on offense a living hell. They made it tough enough to get the ball from his teammates, and when he was able to get enough space to get the ball, they made sure he would be pressured to get it out of his hands as fast as he could.
As Al Riyadi found their footing on the defensive end, they were able to get in rhythm on offense as well, starting from transition baskets which led to three-pointers off slick ball movement.
Coach Ahmad Farran enjoyed a balanced attack throughout his lineup, with six players scoring at least 9 points. Leading the pack was Wael Arakji who overcame a slow start to finish with 25 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals. Dominique Johnson started the game as an offensive weapon and though he slowed down towards the end of the game as he shifted his focus on defense, he still finished with 21 points on 7-10 shooting.
The big men of Riyadi, Ismail Abdel Moneim and Hayk Gyokchyan, might not have shouldered the scoring for the team, but they did combine for 12 assists.
For Al Naft, aside from Edgar Sosa carrying the team with his best efforts, it was ultimately not enough. He did get some support from Antwaine Wiggins (24 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 steals) and Mohammed Nahi (11 points, 11 rebounds), but they will just have to wait for a rematch to settle the score.
Riyadi now improve to 2-2 in the standings, good for second place in Group B just behind Gorgan (2-1). AL Naft, in the meanwhile, drop to third place with a 1-2 record.
Game heroes: Heroes don’t always wear capes and they also don’t always lead the team in scoring. While Arakji’s performance was certainly a major part of Al Riyadi’s win, it’s hard to ignore and not acknowledge Karim Zeinoun’s impact in Riyadi reversing the score.
The young guard came in and change the momentum of the game with his defense (4 steals) while rushing off in transition to the tune of 9 points. It’s not a performance of gaudy numbers, but those who were watching could feel the impact of his defense on Sosa and how that kept the advantage on Riyadi’s side.
STEP AHEAD Player of the Game: Arakji earned STEP AHEAD Player of the Game honors as he received 29 percent of the fan voting.
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Turning point: Karim Zeinoun had a perfect third quarter of 7 points on 3-3 shooting from the field. It was his three-point that gave Riyadi a 4-point lead with less than 30 seconds to go in that quarter that seemed to give the home team the confidence they needed.
Sosa might have replied with a three of his own moment later, but it was an easy shot for him to make which again is credited to the defense Zeinoun had been playing.
Stats don't lie: Some might wonder how Al Naft lost this one even when Edgar Sosa scored even more points than he did in the first clash. All it takes is looking down a few more columns in the box score to see his other double-digit contribution.
Sosa was forced into committing 10 turnovers in this game, compared to when he had 0 turnovers.
“We had a very good game against Riyadi. We played very well, but we missed Kararr Hamzah. We fought till the end and it was a good game overall for us.” - Khalid Deroish, Al Naft head coach
“…Today was big game for us, we came out and played great… You have to give a lot of respect to Riyadi… we gave them a hard fight tonight.” - Edgar Sosa, AL Naft
“I’m glad we managed to win. To be honest, I’m not satisfied about our performance during the first half defensively… The second half the reaction from the bench was great and this is what sealed us the win… We need to work a lot for the next games and be more ready because the level of the competition is going higher and higher, game after game.”- Ahmad Farran, Al Riyad
“… The first half was basically terrible. It’s something that we definitely need to get better at and in the second half we did respond like we were supposed to. However we dug a hole for ourselves that was kind of tough to get out and the second unit did a good job in responding and building the lead for us, it’s just something we have to learn from.” - Dominique Johnson, Al Riyadi