BEIRUT: Last year, Champville’s head coach Ghassan Sarkis devised a plan to battle Riyadi’s dominance on the Lebanese basketball scene.
Now Sarkis is concerned with keeping the title for Champville, as the other teams look to pose a short- and long-term threat to the newly crowned Lebanese champions. Let’s take a look at the latest round of the top teams’ transfer news.
ChampvilleIt’s true that Riyadi were one of the most active teams in the summer transfer doors, but make no mistake, the Blue Castle has risen, and all eyes will be on Champville as they attempt to go further than domestic honors next season.
After making the departure of Lebanon’s legend Fadi al-Khatib almost impossible with a tight contract until 2014/2015, Champville have reached agreements with four new players: Nadim Souaid from Bejjeh, Hussein al-Khatib from Hoops, Miguel Martinez from Sagesse and Sevag Ketenjian from Homentmen.
However, Champville will lose the services of shooting guard Elie Stephan and point guard Mohammad Ibrahim.
The team is still looking for foreigners, as the direction is to get two big men, which is the same strategy as last year. Champville were hoping to renew American center Sam Hoskin, but the new rule, which was acknowledged by the Lebanese parliament and states that clubs can’t sign foreign players who have played in Israel, will topple their hopes.
RiyadiTheir bid to reclaim the Lebanese title next season will require some new signings and changes. The Yellow Castle is currently undergoing a period of changing its skin, as their search for a new coach to replace manager Fouad Abou Chakra is still ongoing. However, the latest information that has been circulating is that the club has reached an agreement with the highly respected coach Slobodan Subotic formerly of Olympiakos and Panathanikos.
Riyadi opened their transfer market with the signing of Lebanon’s starlet Ahmad Ibrahim, who signed for four years, as well as renewing point guard Ali Mahmoud’s contract for four years.
The team is yet to take decisions on the fate of Ali Kanaan and William Pharis, as they would be forced to release one of them after the publication of the list of elite players.
The club signed American giant center Loren Woods, who will join Egyptian veteran Ismael Ahmad, creating a force to be reckoned with. They also signed Rodrigue Akl’s younger brother, Ralph Akl from Amchit. Anibal ZahleAnibal have yet to forget their historical season when they won two titles (the Dubai and Lebanese cups), before making it to the finals of the league for the first time ever.
However, Anibal hasn’t been active on the radar yet, as they so far have only compensated for the departure of team captain and point guard Rodrigue Akl by signing Joey Accaoui.
The latest rumors suggest a move to sign Lebanese abroad Tarek Ammoury, who has been playing in the last few years in American college. He’s the younger brother of Bachir Ammoury, who is a free agent, and Anibal might lose him and Roy Samaha.
SagesseThe dynamism within Sagesse club is something fantastic. The Green Castle, who are trying to return to the top after years of absence, are currently “dreaming.” Their first big attempt to rebuild their championship team was the signing of coach Fouad Abou Chacra from Riyadi in one of the biggest deals of the preseason.
The first move for Abou Chacra was to sign Rodrigue Akl, followed by another two big signings, Elie Stephan and Elie Rustom. The team also signed with Patrick Abou Abboud from Bejjeh and renewed Jad Bitar and Charbel Sokhn’s contracts.
Rumors are linking center Roy Samaha to a possible move to Sagesse.
Mouttahed After one of the worst seasons for Mouttahed since making it into the first division, the Tripoli-based club is yet to make major changes within the team. Their only signing so far is with Lebanon’s former point guard and scorer Rony Fahed, while they almost came to agreement with forward Bassel Bawji to renew his contract. However, they lost the services of Elie Rustom.