ANTELIAS, Lebanon: Lebanese champions Champville claimed their second Lebanese FLB Super Cup title with a 99-83 win over Anibal Zahle at Center Demerjian Wednesday night.
Champville had previously won the first edition of the cup in 2010 against traditional rivals Riyadi Beirut 76-72, before falling to them the very next year 84-82.
They were looking to keep that feel-good momentum as they went into a rematch of last season’s league final.
Meanwhile, Anibal, who had a memorable year last season after lifting the cup title for the first time in the club’s history, as well as winning the Dubai international tournament for the first time too, have lowered their ambitions for the upcoming season from competing for the league title, to merely trying to maintain their place in the top flight.
Anibal’s fall from grace was precipitated largely by the departure of star players such as Rodrigue Akl, Charles Tabet, Roy Samaha, Mazen Mneimneh and Ghaleb Reda due financial breakdowns.
Champville got off to the most ideal of starts for the upcoming season with a victory that saw talisman Fadi al-Khatib lead all scorers with 28 points, with Khalil Aoun adding 18 points and American Reyshawn Terry finishing with15.
In the first quarter, Anibal refused to be overawed by the Lebanese champions, fighting back to level 9-9, thanks to two back-to-back three pointers from newcomer Joey Accaoui.
From there on though, Champville took over, with star man Khatib hitting a three to give his side a 28-19 lead heading into the second quarter.
Both teams played with only one foreigner in the first quarter, as Anibal were missing their American center Dane Johnson who is yet to arrive, while head coach Ghassan Sarkis only played Garnett Thompson in the beginning of the match before he pulled him out for the rest of the evening.
Champville’s newcomer Terry saw some action in the second quarter, taking the reins from Khatib who was benched for the second period, but Terry delivered two quick three-pointers to extend the lead to 40-22.
Nadim Souaid – who finished with 12 points for the night – also came up trumps for Sarkis’ side as he exploited two great passes from Terry to send his team into halftime with a commanding 54-36 lead.
Anibal suffered greatly as they tried to match Champville’s physical game, especially since they had to play the match with only one center – inexperienced 20-year-old Joe Abi Khers
The Zahle-based club, missing their new coach, Jordan’s Murad Barakat, due to arrive within the next two days from Amman, had to rely mostly on the trio of Accaoui, Chudney Gray and Bashir Saad.
There were moments of class from the likes of Saad, who had 15 points, and Accaoui, who added 18, but Anibal ultimately came up considerably short.
Champville continued to impress in the third quarter, leaving their opponents in search of quick baskets in the fourth quarter in order to have any chance of a comeback.
And while Accaoui and Gray, who nailed 13 points, did so, Champville responded with Khatib delivering the fatal strike as Champville sealed a 99-83 victory.
One moment of controversy came at the end of the match when Thompson rushed off the court without lifting the cup with his side, a kneejerk reaction for spending most of the time on the bench.