25 May, 2024
01 June
22 Jonathan Mychal Gibson (SAG)
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Gibson, Sagesse wanted to make a statement versus Manama. They sure did so

DOHA (Qatar) - It didn't take long for the field to witness a stunner.

Right on the very first day of FIBA West Asia Super League (WASL) Final 8 2024, Sagesse SC sent a strong message by beating defending champions Manama convincingly, giving as well a glimpse of how tough this edition of the competition can be.

According to Jonathan Gibson, it was all part of the plan.


"We knew that we gotta make a statement game," he said during the postgame presser of their 95-82 victory at the Lusail Sports Hall.

"We lost in the [domestic league] Final back in Lebanon but we stuck together. It's the Final 8 so [we wanted] to come out here and make a statement game."

Just before the Final 8 in this sprawling Qatari city, the Green Castle absorbed a gentleman's sweep at the hands of long-time rivals Al Riyadi in the 2023-24 Snips Lebanese Basketball Championship best-of-7 Finals, with Game 5 last May 20 a lopsided 113-97 result.

It couldn't get any tougher for Gibson and the rest of the crew, having lost against the same team that dashed their hopes of reaching the FIBA WASL-West Asia League Final after being booted out of contention in their best-of-3 Semi-Final series that went the distance.


Thus, the extreme hunger to make a mark in Qatar.

They've done just that as early as Day 1, taking down their Bahraini counterparts behind a 33-point second-quarter explosion before closing it out strongly, much to the delight of their fans who made the trip to the venue and proudly cheered them on.

"It feels good," said Gibson, who joined Sagesse earlier this year and has since played a major role behind their strong showings domestically and in FIBA WASL.

"I think it says a lot about our team, about our character, and everything that we've been through."


The 36-year-old was key in upending Manama. He fired 26 points, although it wasn't until the second half that he found his touch - the explosive combo guard couldn't make a triple until the fourth quarter, nailing all three of his outside shots there to help repel their foes.

He'd be the first to admit that it's part of his adjustment.

"It feels good. I'm getting used to the ball," the former NBA cager said, smiling as he's now getting accustomed to playing with Molten basketballs. "Because we play with a different ball in Lebanon. It was good to finally see some go in in the fourth quarter, when we needed it most."

Gibson adapting should definitely bode well for Sagesse moving forward, especially given the fact that they're situated in the 'Group of Death' that is Group A as it also features Al Riyadi and BC Astana, two of the top four finishers in the inaugural Final 8 held in Dubai.

They have now gained a head start and that, no doubt, boosts their morale.

"I think it gives us confidence, for sure," he said. "We came out with a great game, everybody. We gotta keep that same energy and the same focus defensively and offensively, being aggressive on both ends. I think it's a great morale booster moving forward."

Still, Gibson and Co. remain on an even keel. Sagesse are taking it one game at a time, with their focus now shifting to Monday's marquee game against Al Riyadi as the two write yet another chapter to a rivalry so storied. Game time is set at 21:00 local time.

"It's one game," he said, referring to their win over Manama, "and we gotta continue to do it for the rest of the games. Put it past us, and get ready for the Derby game on Monday."