BEIRUT: Sagesse moved a step closer towards reaching the season finals for the first time since 2006 after beating Mouttahed 87-72 in Game 1 Thursday to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five semifinals series of the Lebanese Basketball League. The first quarter was fairly even, but American star Quincy Douby and Sagesse were looking dangerous, pouncing on some sloppy defense from Mouttahed.
The hosts led 9-2 after four minutes, but the visitors fought back through the American duo Eric Chatfield and Marc Salyers, and Bassel Bawji, as the gap was closed to only 17-13 with two minutes left.
Sagesse’s lead was up to five thanks to Julian Khazzouh and Douby, as the home side went into the first break 2621 ahead.
The second quarter belonged to Douby, who was hot from behind the arc, draining six 3-pointers alone in the first half, as the greens extended their lead to 14 points midway through the second.
Douby turned from scorer to supplier at times, dishing his teammates many assists with Khazzouh finishing some in style.
The American shooting guard showed some skillful plays, which brought the home crowd to their feet as Sagesse led 51-36 with two minutes left in the second.
Chatfield tried his best to keep his side in contention and a two-pointer at the buzzer reduced the gap to 11.
The Tripoli side knew they had to stop Douby if they were to stand a chance, and their defense finally clamped down, to restrict Sagesse to only 12 points in the third.
But their offense wasn’t any better, as they outscored their opponents by only one point to cut the gap to 10 going into the fourth quarter.
Salyers used his mismatch to score on Mohammad Ibrahim and close the gap to eight early the fourth, but Sims and Rodrigue Akl responded quickly, to bring the score back to double digits.
And Douby finally found his range again with a baseline 3-pointer as the hosts remained comfortably ahead 80-69 with four minutes to go.
He was on hand again with his eighth triple of the night, and Khazzouh added another, as Sagesse saw their lead extended to 18, 87-69.
Sagesse eventually sealed an 87-72 victory and a 1-0 series lead before Game 2 at Tripoli Saturday.
Douby led the scoring with 38 points including 8 of 14 from behind the arc, while Sims added 17 points and eight rebounds, and Khazzouh added 15 points and 15 rebounds. Akl also contributed with eight points and eight rebounds, and Elie Rustom registered seven points.
Bawji top scored for Mouttahed with 20 points and nine rebounds, while Chatfield added 17 points and six assists, and both Salyers and Roy Samaha had 13 points each.