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La Sagesse and Al-Riyadi met on Wednesday in the second match of the West Asia Super League (WASL) semi-finals. The match took place at La Sagesse’s arena in Ghazir. This is the third time that Al-Riyadi and La Sagesse have met in the space of a week, with Al-Riyadi winning the two previous matches (WASL and League).

Al-Riyadi was already 1-0 up against their rivals after a tense match last Wednesday on neutral ground at the Nouhad Nawfal stadium in Zouk Mikael. Thus, Manara’s team needed just one win against La Sagesse to secure a place in the WASL final.

Torrid Atmosphere

This time, Al-Riyadi had to play in La Sagesse’s stadium, renowned for its torrid atmosphere, making this game considerably more difficult than the two previous ones they had won. The game ended 109-106 in favor of La Sagesse, who now level the series at 1-1.

In this highly anticipated match, coach Jad El-Hajj opted for a classic lineup with Ahmad Ibrahim, Jonathan Gibson, Marc Khoueiry, Radhouane Slimane, and Karim Ezzeddine. Deng is absent due to an injury sustained in his last match against Al-Riyadi last Saturday. Al-Riyadi coach Ahmad Farran has selected his usual starting five of Elmedin Kikanovic, Karim Zeinoun, Wael Arakji, Hayk Gyokchyan, and Manny Harris.

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Zeinoun Block

The match opened with an impressive sequence after a remarkable block by Karim Zeinoun, a defensive highlight that gave Arakji the opportunity to open the scoring at the other end. Halfway through the quarter, the two teams were going blow for blow, with Al-Riyadi slightly ahead. After Ali Mansour’s foul gave La Sagesse two free throws and a possession, the team managed to score five points in a matter of seconds, reversing the momentum in their favor. The quarter ended 25-21 in La Sagesse’s favor.

With La Sagesse leading by a small margin, the game was still very close, with only one possession separating the two teams. Throughout a quarter studded with numerous fouls, La Sagesse maintained a slight advantage to stay in control, thanks to an impressive performance from their number nine, Ahmad Ibrahim, who managed several difficult shots in the racket. At the end of the first half, Al-Riyadi equalized on a hat-trick from Amir Saoud. The hosts then increased their lead to six points after some good defensive stops and offensive shots. Finally, only two points separated the two teams, this time with the advantage going to La Sagesse (44-42).

The second half began on a bad note for Al-Riyadi: La Sagesse’s Jonathan Gibson was fouled while scoring a 3-pointer, making it a 4-point game, which gave his team the lead. Sagesse then increased its lead to 14 points, encouraged by the support of its fans. As Al-Riyadi accumulated attacking errors, Sagesse found a way to exploit them and extend their lead. The quarter ended with a 3-pointer at the buzzer from Wael Arakji, giving Al-Riyadi a one-point advantage (72-71).

After La Sagesse had let a 14-point lead slip in the third quarter, the momentum was in Al-Riyadi’s hands, but only with the slightest of advantages. Midway through the quarter, Al-Riyadi’s lead fluctuated several times, but the point that separated the two teams at the end of the third quarter held. With a few minutes left to play, Al-Riyadi presented some brilliant plays on attack, with Arakji involved in every action. With a minute to go, Manara’s team led by just 6 points, then by 2 with 22 seconds remaining. La Sagesse then stole the ball to score and equalize at 95-95 with 14 seconds remaining. The fourth quarter ended on that score, and the game went into overtime.


By the start of overtime, it was clear that both teams were facing a new challenge: fatigue. As a result, the pace of play slowed by the minute, with both teams fighting for crucial points. Halfway through extra time, Sagesse was leading by 3 points. The Greens held on to this advantage right to the end. The score was 109-106 in favor of Sagesse. Al-Riyadi folded in Ghazir, and La Sagesse took their third game in the WASL semi-finals.