BEIRUT: Riyadi Beirut triumphed in the 100th derby against archrivals Sagesse 99-80 Friday at Manara in round 8 of the Lebanese Basketball League. The win did not come as a surprise given the gulf in performance between both sides thus far this season, as well as the situation surrounding the green side, especially since Sagesse deployed two new foreigners in Bosnian Ratko Varda and Ukranian Oleskey Pecherov who only arrived to Lebanon hours before the match.
And although Riyadi played without suspended American center Chris Daniels, they were able to easily win the rebounding battle against their opponents. The game was close at first with both teams exchanging baskets, but the hosts clearly had the upper hand, most notably with their bench players. Amir Saoud instantly made an impression scoring from distance to give Riyadi a 17-14 lead at the end of the first.
And Riyadi continued to take advantage of the zone defense used by Sagesse as Slobodan Subotic’s side rained 3s with Ali Haidar impressing. Sagesse showed fighting spirit and managed to stay in contention with solid efforts from Elie Rustom, Dion Dixon and Varda, but Riyadi proved too strong leading 45-33 at halftime. The hosts dominated in the second half, with Haidar, Saoud and Aaron Harper running riot, as Riyadi lead by almost 30 points.
Sagesse kept fighting in an attempt to avoid a humiliating loss, eventually succumbing by 19 points.
Saoud led the scoring for Riyadi with 20 points while Harper added 18 points, and the trio of Jeremiah Massey, Ismael Ahmad and Haidar had 15 points each.
Meanwhile, Dixon top scored for Sagesse with 20 points while Rustom and Varda added 18 and 17 points respectively.
Riyadi lead the table with a 7-0 record, while Sagesse are fifth at 3-5.
Elsewhere, struggling Champville visit newly promoted Louaize Saturday in round 9 at Central Stadium.
The Kesrouan-based side tasted their first victory in the top flight after beating rivals Tadamon 95-91 after overtime, and they are now tied with Champville at 1-6. Saturday’s game promises to be intriguing as both teams will be vying for supremacy, knowing that the ninth-placed team will fail to reach the post season at the end of the campaign.
Meanwhile, Homenetmen will hope to regain second place when they host Tadamon Zouk Sunday.
The Armenian side lost that spot to Hoops, the surprise package of the season, after falling to them 93-81 Wednesday, meaning both teams are now tied at 5-2 with the head-to-head advantage in Hoops’ favor. Homenetmen can provisionally regain their previous position, as Hoops face Mouttahed Monday.
Meanwhile, Tadamon will hope to recover after winning only once in the last four games, as they are now in sixth place at 3-4.