Asian basketball

Al Riyadi boots PH out of Dubai, exacts revenge for 2020 runner-up finish

JR Isaga

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Al Riyadi boots PH out of Dubai, exacts revenge for 2020 runner-up finish

NOT SO STRONG. Strong Group Philippines at the 32nd Dubai International Basketball Championship

Dubai Sports screenshot

Strong Group Philippines' Dubai title charge comes to a screeching halt after a knockout quarterfinal loss to an Al Riyadi side led by four Lebanese national team members

MANILA, Philippines – Al Riyadi Beirut earned a big boost to its 32nd Dubai International Basketball Championship title hopes after slaying Strong Group Philippines, 106-97, in the knockout quarterfinals on Thursday, February 2 (Friday, February 3, Manila time).

The win completed a revenge tour of sorts for Al Riyadi as it was coming off a runner-up finish to the Philippines – then represented by Mighty Sports – back in February 2020, right at the cusp of the pandemic’s start.

All four Lebanese national team members stood out in the thrilling game of runs, with veteran guard Amir Saoud erupting for a game-high 41 points on 14-of-24 shooting and 7-of-12 from three.

Sensational floor general Wael Arakji punched in a modest 13-point, 4-dime line in the win, while forwards AJ Majok and Hayk Gyokchyan scored 13 and 12, respectively.

Carrying momentum from its blazing 33-19 first quarter, Al Riyadi dictated the game’s flow despite Strong Group rallying all the way back to striking distance and peaking with a five-point lead, 63-58, midway through the third period.

Just as the Philippine team was setting up an exciting endgame after forging an 81-all tie halfway through the final frame, the Lebanese pulled away with a defining 14-2 run, ending with five straight points from Saoud with 3:08 left to play for the 95-83 separation.

Strong Group put together a final 14-6 stand capped with a Shabazz Muhammad putback with 34 seconds left to get within 4, 97-101, but time was just not on their side as Al Riyadi import Dominic Johnson sealed the deal with two free throws, 103-97, off an intentional JD Cagulangan foul.

Muhammad ended his Dubai stint with a 27-point effort on 9-of-17 shooting and 9-of-12 from the line – his fifth straight team-high scoring output.

Renaldo Balkman churned out a 16-point, 15-rebound double-double before fouling out in the final minute, while Nick Young rounded out Strong Group’s ex-NBA trio with just 8 points and 4 rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench.

Big man Justine Baltazar paced the locals’ side with 13 points, 8 boards, and 3 steals in 29 minutes off the bench, while sniper BJ Andrade and Fil-Am dynamo Sedrick Barefield tallied 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Al Riyadi now moves on to the knockout semifinals, continuing its path to redemption from its 2020 silver-medal finish.

The Scores

Al Riyadi 106 – Saoud 41, Johnson 23, Majok 13, Arakji 13, Gyokchyan 12, Abdelnour 3, Abdelmoneim 1, Zeinoun 0, Mansour 0.

Strong Group PH 97 – Muhammad 27, Balkman 16, Baltazar 13, Andrade 11, Barefield 10, Lastimosa 9, Young 8, Quiambao 3, Oczon 0, Cagulangan 0.

Quarters: 33-19, 51-46, 74-73, 106-97.


Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!