Streak busted as ZobAhan deal Beirut Club first loss
TEHRAN (Iran) - ZobAhan tasted the sweetest of paybacks following a 79-72 stunner of Beirut Club to put a screeching halt to the remaining unbeaten run in WASL-West Asia, Wednesday night at the Azadi Basketball Hall in Tehran.
Sajjad Mashayekhi and Amir Tousarani dealt the killer blows down the stretch, combining for the last five of a key 6-0 run that doused cold water to the visiting team's rally that saw the latter inch within a point from 10 points down.
The Iranian side has now become the hottest team with three straight wins although their Lebanese foes remain on top of Group A (3-1) with a head-to-head advantage -- Beirut Club won their first meeting in lopsided fashion, 73-56.
Game heroes: Farid Abadi top-scored for ZobAhan with 16 points.
Arsalan Kazemi finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Mashayekhi registered his own double-double with 14 points and 11 assists with 4 steals.
Arman Zangeneh supplied 10 points, and filled up the stats sheet with 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks in 32 minutes of play.
Mohammad Hassanzadeh added 10 also as five players finished in double figures in the win that further solidified the squad as one to look out for deep into the season.
STEP AHEAD Player of the Game: Arsalan ran away with the STEP AHEAD Player of the Game honors after earning 38-percent votes in the online poll.
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Turning point: ZobAhan faced a major threat when Ken Horton's trey chopped the gap to just a solitary point approaching the final two minutes, but Kazemi's split from the line widened the gap to a field goal once more.
But it became a two-possession ball game in a snap when Mashayekhi stole the ball and laid it up, to make it a 76-72 lead with 1:44 remaining.
And serving as the dagger was the corner triple of Tousarani off a Zangeneh dime, 79-72, leaving Beirut Club searching for answers but to no avail.
Stats don't lie: ZobAhan won the boards, 41-32, and took full advantage of their second chances by scoring 11 off it. Beirut Club had 0 in that area.
They said: "The ZobAhan players, early in the game, were more hungry. I feel like we were relaxed because we had a winning streak. I think it is a wake-up call for us." - Elie Rustom, Beirut Club
"I'm really happy we pulled this win off. I think Beirut is one of the better teams that I played against in my career. They're a very well-coached team, and it's really fun to play against them." - Arsalan Kazemi, ZobAhan