Riyadi secure WABA League spot as Champville fall apart

Riyadi players challenge Champville during the WABA league semifinals basketball game in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, March 20, 2012. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Riyadi earned a place in the WABA League final Tuesday after obliterating a woeful Champville 95-67 in Manara.

The win gives Riyadi the chance to defend their title in April when they meet Mahram in the final, a repeat of last season’s Asian Champions Cup final that the Lebanese team won.

A good way to gauge how well Riyadi played is to see three-point specialist Omar Turk’s contribution. If Riyadi play well and have the defense on its heels, Turk is afforded a slew of wide-open shots from beyond the arc; when the opposing defense is locked in, Turk isn’t as lucky.

Turk top scored for Riyadi Tuesday with 23 points as he feasted in his team’s lightening-quick breaks and Champville’s poor defensive rotations.

Champville’s talisman Fadi al-Khatib was a shadow of his usual self as he failed to score in the entire first half and scored his first field goal eight minutes into the third quarter before being unceremoniously benched for the rest of the game.

In fairness Champville had little to play for. The WABA league is a qualification tournament for the Asian Champions Cup. Lebanon are only allowed one representative at the Asian Champions Cup and because of Riyadi’s status as holders and hosts of the next tournament – to be held in June in Manara – they are guaranteed a place at the expense of Champville.

Champville started without either of their American big men, Sam Hoskin and Harold Jamison, and it cost them early on as Ismael Ahmad had it all his own way against Champville’s smaller front court, scoring 10 points in the first quarter.

Hoskin and Jamison were soon brought in with the scores at 10-6 but it made little difference as Riyadi broke out to three fast-break scores, making the scoreline 17-8.

Riyadi took the first quarter 23-12 and started off the second in blistering fashion, scoring five quick points through William Fares and Turk.

Jamison and Hoskin managed to muscle Champville back to within eight points before Jean Abdul-Nour and Turk hit wide-open 3-pointers to stop Champville’s resurgence.

Ahmad’s role turned to facilitator in the second quarter and Champville’s perimeter disintegrated as Riyadi went into the half with a 46-27 lead.

The second half turned into farce as Riyadi completely overran Champville. A 12-0 run early in the third quarter put Riyadi 30 points up at 63-33.

The way Champville lay down starkly contrasted with the gutsy performances they put in last Sunday and a week ago in Game 2. One of the main reasons Champville were able to pick up two wins in the last week was their ability to not commit turnovers and stop Riyadi in transition. Tuesday they simply let Riyadi run riot on the fast break.

Riyadi closed the third quarter 75-39 before both sides put in their scrubs to finish a dead rubber of a fourth quarter.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 21, 2012, on page 14.




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