13 November, 2023
08 May, 2024
23 Cleanthony Robert Early (SAG)
Game Report
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Sagesse win in OT classic, drag erstwhile unbeaten Al Riyadi to do-or-die

BEIRUT (Lebanon) - Sagesse showed great resolve as they beat Al Riyadi in overtime, 109-106, to force their FIBA WASL-West Asia League Semi-Final affair to a decider, Wednesday night at the Ghazir Club Stadium.

Young gun Omar Jamaleddine came through with crucial clean-up jobs, before veterans Karim Ezzedine and Cleanthony Early delivered the final blows as the Green Castle went on to complete the comeback from a seven-point deficit with 69 seconds left in regulation.

Not only did they send the series to a do-or-die Game 3 on April 17 but Sagesse also dealt Al Riyadi their first loss this season after starting out with five straight wins.

Game heroes: Early finished with a monster double-double of 30 points and 21 rebounds, together with 2 blocks as he deservingly earned STEP AHEAD Player of the Game honors.

Star forward Ahmad Ibrahim came through with 25 points, none bigger than his transition layup off a Wael Arakji turnover that sent the game into overtime.

That shot of his capped off the 7-0 run to erase a 95-88 deficit, a run which he helped build alongside Jonathan Gibson, who delivered 24 points on a 5-of-11 clip from deep.

Jamaleddine registered 10 points, on top of 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals as Sagesse finally finished a comeback after falling short in the series opener last week.

Turning point: Saki Sakakini nailed a big three-pointer from near the wing, but that proved to be the last time Al Riyadi would be in the lead as Jamaleddine gave Sagesse a 104-103 edge following a clean-up job of Gibson's missed trifecta with 2:03 remaining in the game.

Jamaleddine would also help stretch their lead to three, 106-103, as he found Early for a bucket inside with 1:27 on the clock. But that was quickly negated by Amir Saoud, who nailed a triple to tie things up once more closing into the final minute.

Ezzedine, though, was there to provide the go-ahead bucket off a drive to the cup with 45.5 seconds left. That proved to be the beginning of the end for Al Riyadi as Saoud pulled the trigger for an ill-advised shot from the outside and missed.

Ibrahim collared the missed and dished it to Early, who was fouled to stop the clock and managed to split his shots from the charity stripe with 7.2 seconds left to play. Sagesse then turned to their defense, preventing Arakji from hoisting up a shot as time expired.

Stats don't lie: Early registered the first 30-20 performance in FIBA WASL in a solid effort that witnessed him haul nearly half of Sagesse's 49 rebounds in the victory.

They said: "Honestly, I'm happy. I'm happy we won the game. I'm happy for many reasons. I'm happy for my players. They gave their best. 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. They deserve the win." - Jad El Hajj, Head Coach, Sagesse

"Very proud of the team today. Happy we could give the fans a win here at home. Hopefully we can keep the momentum going." - Omar Jamaleddine, Sagesse

"This is what the series is going to be. We went very, very, very close to winning the game. I don't have the stat sheet but I can tell that we lost the rebounds in the last two minutes. They took a lot of second chances. If we stopped this I think we could've won this game. But it's OK. We will play again on the 17th of April at home so hopefully it will be a better game for us, and we can finish it." - Ahmad Farran, Head Coach, Al Riyadi

"It's tough to play in Ghazir. We did our best. Sagesse wanted it more. Especially in the last couple of minutes. We dropped maybe physically but that doesn't mean much. We're gonna be ready for the next game. Credit to Sagesse fans and the team because they did amazing." - Amir Saoud, Al Riyadi