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La Sagesse defeated Al-Riyadi Club 85-84 on Wednesday in Ghazir as part of the second game of the Lebanese Basketball Championship finals. The two teams are now tied 1-1 in their series, played in a best-of-seven format.

Breathtaking! The term is not too strong to describe the spectacle witnessed on the Ghazir stadium court on Wednesday as a magnificent game unfolded between the two finalists of the Lebanese Basketball Championship. The clash of giants lived up to all expectations, even though La Sagesse’s victory took time to materialize, and it was only five seconds before the end that a masterful triple by Jonathan Gibson knocked the Yellows out.

In the cauldron of Ghazir, with six thousand electrified spectators, the matchup featured Hayk Gyokchyan, Karim Zeinoun, Wael Arakji, Jonathan Simmons, and Elmedin Kikanovic (Al-Riyadi) against the Greens. La Sagesse’s coach, Jad el-Hajj, fielded Karim Ezzeddine, Omar Jamaleddine, Nick Rakocevic, Ahmad Ibrahim, and Jonathan Gibson to start the proceedings.

Arakji’s Triple

Waël Arakji caught the hosts off guard with a triple. Immediate response: Jonathan Gibson countered with a three-point shot. The start of the match set the tone. With Ezzeddine and Rakocevic on one side and Arakji and Zeinoun on the other, the game was fairly balanced (13-13 in the 5th minute). A triple by Jonathan Gibson, followed by a magnificent collective action concluded by Rakocevic, gave La Sagesse the lead 26-19 (8th minute). The Serb from La Sagesse, in a state of grace, scored his twelfth point and allowed his team to close the first quarter with a substantial lead of 10 points (32-22).

Defensive Play

The intensity of the match intensified in the second quarter, with solid defensive play from both sides. Led by a standout performance from Thon Maker, the Yellows didn’t let themselves fall too far behind (32-26). But triples kept coming from La Sagesse’s side (Early and Gibson in the 17th minute), and the spectacle matched the stakes. Halftime was called, with La Sagesse leading 50-38.

Al-Riyadi Makes a Comeback

After a period of uncertainty, the Greens’ lead dwindled to the point of being overtaken by a three-point shot from Jonathan Simmons (60-57 in the 27th minute). La Sagesse’s players had suddenly lost their edge. Al-Riyadi had come back from nowhere to equalize at the end of the third quarter (66-66). Everything was to be redone for La Sagesse in the fourth quarter. Guilty of four consecutive turnovers, things were looking rather bleak for La Sagesse’s players as they fell back into their old habits. Al-Riyadi then took control of the match and seemed headed for another victory (84-82) when a magnificent triple by Jonathan Gibson with 5 seconds left on the buzzer secured the victory for La Sagesse (85-84). With this precious victory, La Sagesse has leveled the series 1-1 against its archrival.

What’s next? Friday, 9:45 PM at Manara. Heart patients, beware!