25 May, 2024
01 June
10 Ali Mansour (RIY), 16 Wael Arakji (RIY)
29/05/2024
Game Report
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Al Riyadi weather Manama storm, enter Semis unbeaten

DOHA (Qatar) - Al Riyadi needed to overcome the challenge imposed by Manama before leaving with the 77-68 win in the bag to head into the FIBA West Asia Super League (WASL) Final 8 2024 Semi-Finals unbeaten, Wednesday night at the Lusail Multipurpose Hall.

Already assured of a ticket to the next round prior to the game, the reigning two-time West Asia League champions witnessed their 19-point lead become just three. 66-63, with under six minutes to go in the fourth quarter, but the key cogs prevented matters from worsening.

Ali Mansour converted an unmolested layup off the break, Wael Arakji split his shots from the line, then Hayk Gyokchyan scored on back-to-back dunks to re-establish a double-digit lead, 73-63, with 2:47 left, and that run was more than enough to take control for good.

Now, the Group A top seed (3-0) will turn their attention to the knockout crossover Semis set on Friday, May 31, where they are facing Shahrdary Gorgan in a rematch of the two previous West Asia League Finals. The clash is set at 15:00 local time still in the same venue.

 

Game heroes: Amir Saoud top-scored for Al Riyadi with 15 points on a 50-percent clip from the field, spiked by a pair of triples, alongside 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals.

Gyokchyan came close to a double-double with 13 points and 8 rebounds for a team-best efficiency (EFF) of  16, earning STEP AHEAD Player of the Game honors. Thon Maker produced 11 points and 8 rebounds as well, and collected 3 blocks.

Arakji finished with 10 points as he managed to overcome a minor ankle injury he suffered at the 3:32-mark of the first quarter. The star guard already had 8 points to his name before the incident, which kept him on the sidelines until the start of the third quarter.

 

Turning point: Al Riyadi were already running roughshod on the inaugural FIBA WASL champions when they established a 40-21 lead during the second chapter, until Manama came back fighting after the halftime intermission in a bid to end their season strongly.

Slowly, they chipped away the deficit and got to within single digits entering the final frame, but the Lebanese side rebuilt another high wall, 66-53, behind Saoud's triple.

The Bahraini side kept on fighting, though, and soon they found themselves within just three points courtesy of Travin Thibodeaux's bucket inside off an Ahmed Haji find.

But that would be the closest they'd get as Al Riyadi came back with the aforementioned run to put the game out of reach. Gyokchyan and Saoud would apply the finishing touches as the Yellow Castle fans celebrated after witnessing a character win from their team.

Stats don't lie: Al Riyadi were the bigger team but they actually got outrebounded, 48-45. But they shot the ball better at 43.2-percent and had 20 assists, plus 13 steals.

They said: "It's one of those games where it's hard to focus, especially since there is no motive. Manama had already lost their chances to qualify, and we have already secured the first position ... unfortunately it was one of those bad nights for us. But we managed to win, so this is something positive for us." - Ahmad Farran, Head Coach, Al Riyadi

"We knew we had to get the win, and no matter what we're gonna get it. Last year was an upset, this year we're fully focused. May God prevent injuries, and hopefully we go far." - Amir Saoud, Al Riyadi

"I want to congratulate Al Riyadi on the win and wish them, from the bottom of my heart, to win everything. Especially to my friend Ahmad Farran. They deserve it, and I hope they go all the way." - Linos Gavriel, Head Coach, Manama

"I hate to lose. I hate to participate just to participate. Especially when I'm wearing the Manama jersey ... this club means so much to me. I hate to go out like that, but sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. That's sports." - Ahmed Haji, Manama

FIBA