Al Riyadi own Al Wahda anew, head straight to FIBA WASL-West Asia Semi-Finals
ZOUK MIKAEL (Lebanon) - Al Riyadi are bound for the FIBA WASl-West Asia League Season 2 Semi-Finals after sweeping Al Wahda, 79-53, Wednesday night at the Stade Nouhad Nawfal.
The reigning sub-zone league champions used a strong fourth-quarter surge to take down their Syrian counterparts once again on the way to booking a direct trip to the said stage.
They also extended their unbeaten run to three following the rout to secure the no. 1 seed in Group B, where Al Wahda remained at the third spot as they fell to 1-3.
Game heroes: Elmedin Kikanovic led Al Riyadi with 24 points, including 10 in the first quarter alone to help his side buck a slow start and eventually take the lead. The Bosnian big man fell just short of a double-double as he also hauled down 9 rebounds.
Karim Zeinoun finished with 11 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals, while Mohamad Bilal Tabbara added 10 in the win that saw all nine players fielded score at least 4 points.
STEP AHEAD Player of the Game: Mansour earned STEP AHEAD Player of the Game honors for his role especially in the second half to ensure that Al Riyadi stayed ahead against their hard-fighting counterparts, eventually allowing themselves to pull away in the fourth.
Turning point: The Lebanese side actually trailed by three until Kikanovic powered an 11-0 run abridging the first and second quarters for a 24-16 lead to start taking control of the game.
But it wasn't until the deciding chapter where they pulled away for good, with Hayk Gyokchyan's rare four-point play pushing their lead to 61-45 with 5:08 left to play.
Stats don't lie: It is the first time that Al Riyadi booked an outright Semis trip. They needed to go through the Qualification to Semi-Finals in the FIBA WASL inaugurals.
There, they beat Orthodox Amman to forge a duel with Beirut Club, which they swept to set up a title showdown with Shahrdary Gorgan. They beat the Iranian side, 2-0, to win the crown.
They said: "We did our job ... We had an exceptional game defensively, but it wasn't our night today offensively. Easily we could've scored a hundred points but it wasn't our night. We struggled offensively especially from the three-point line. We only made 19-percent. But I'm very satisfied defensively. My team put in the energy and the effort." - Ahmad Farran, Head Coach, Al Riyadi
"Right now we have some time to relax, to watch how things are happening in the other groups. Take a short break, and then be ready for the Semi-Final." - Wael Arakji, Al Riyadi
"Rebounding went wrong in the fourth quarter. And our percentage from the three-point line, which was pretty much low today. I think those were the two main handicaps in the fourth quarter. Plus we had a couple of unforced errors. That's about it. But I'm so proud of the guys, they had pretty good execution on defense and offense. And we took the game the way it should have been fought. We came up short." - Marwan Khalil, Head Coach, Al Wahda
"Honestly, just putting the whole 40 minutes together. Against Shorta we fought till the end, to the last second, in the first game. But putting a whole 40 minutes together has been one of the toughest things that we've been trying to do and grow in going into our Syrian League and in WASL. I think putting the whole 40 minutes together and fighting really hard till the end is a big thing for us." - Jomaru Brown, Al Wahda