13 November, 2023
08 May, 2024
1 Omar Jamaleddine (SAG)
04/04/2024
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Given full freedom, Omar Jamaleddine helps keep Sagesse in Final hunt

GHAZIR (Lebanon) - Rebounding hasn't really been one of Sagesse's strongest suits, yet it was the very facet that helped keep their FIBA WASL-West Asia Final aspirations alive.

Offensive boards that were quickly turned into points by Omar Jamaleddine in overtime helped the Green Castle a great deal in dragging Al Riyadi to a rubber match following a thrilling 109-106 win in Game 2 of their best-of-three Semis bout on Wednesday.

"I gave him, before the game, full freedom to do whatever he can do on the court."

- El Hajj on Jamaleddine

"Helped us a lot to get the win," proudly said head coach Jad El Hajj during the postgame presser at the Ghazir Club Stadium. "I say great job to Omar, to everyone, to us really."

The team was losing the battle on the boards for the majority of the night - it even came to a point where the disparity was a double-digit spread - but they poured it all out in their most important game of the season, most especially the 23-year-old shooting guard.

He kept Sagesse in the game through his timely putbacks, first a clean-up of Karim Ezzedine's missed attempt from outside to break the 100-all tie with 2:33 remaining.

Jamaleddine then collected another missed three-pointer, this time from guard Jonathan Gibson, to give them back the lead, 104-103, with 2:03 on the clock.

He was also responsible for pushing their lead to three points, 106-103, by dishing an assist to Cleanthony Early for a lay-up with 1:27 left to play.

Ezzedine and Early joined hands to help close the game out, making sure, too, that their younger teammate's efforts in the extra period wouldn't go down the drain.

Jamaleddine went on to finish with 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists, together with 2 steals. And that showing was huge thanks to the go-signal given by no less than his mentor.

"Omar knows. I gave him, before the game, full freedom to do whatever he can do on the court, especially [since] we know his advantage in offensive rebounds -- great size, energy," said El Hajj of his ward, who stands at 1.90 M (6'3"). "So, he got crucial points in overtime."

That effort that Jamaleddine and the rest of the crew showed enabled Sagesse to match the rebounding output of Al Riyadi in Game 2. Both teams finished with 49, which, indeed, is huge for El Hajj's charges, given that they don't usually win the battle of the boards.

Early was a big reason as well behind that as he collected 21 rebounds and 30 points, which is a historic outing as it is the first-ever 30-20 performance in FIBA WASL.

"The most important thing is they now understand that if we believe, we can beat any team. I know Riyadi is one of the biggest teams in Asia. We put our heart today on the court," said the Lebanon men's national team head coach. "They deserved the win."

Now, it's about keeping the momentum going for Jamaleddine and Sagesse, which became the first team to deal Al Riyadi their first loss of the season after winning their first five games.

"Very proud of the team today. Happy we could give the fans a win here at home. Hopefully we can keep the momentum going," he said. "Looking forward to the next one."

FIBA