Riyadi battled to a 57-50 win over Sagesse to secure their 24th Lebanese Basketball League title in Game 6 of the 2014 finals Tuesday.
The yellow side were down by 11 at halftime, but a sensational comeback led by 22-year-old shooting guard Amir Saoud, who scored two vital triples in the last quarter, gave Slobodan Subotic’s men a historic win that crowned them champions.
Egyptian star Ismael Ahmad led the scoring for Riyadi with 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Jean Abdelnour added 12 points and six rebounds. Saoud also had 10 points and Loren Woods nine points and 10 rebounds.
For Sagesse, Rodrigue Akl top scored with 13 points, while Julian Khazzouh added 11 points and 14 rebounds and American Dewarick Spencer added 11 points.
With their backs to the wall, Sagesse were determined from the outset to make up for their dispirited performance in Game 5, which ended 88-82 for Riyadi at Manara.
Julian Khazzouh played a successful high-low post game with Chris Daniels to give Sagesse a 6-0 lead, before Rodrigue Akl banked a three-pointer as the hosts led 9-0 after four minutes.
Riyadi’s Slovenian head coach Slobodan Subotic started with Ali Haidar as a reward for his spirited performance in Game 5, in which he netted 19 points with nine rebounds. But Ahmad was introduced to the court midway through first after being suspended in the previous game. He couldn’t change much as Sagesse showed high intensity on both ends, with Riyadi running out of solutions on offense, while Fouad Abou Chakra’ side were more flexible, rallying to lead 19-7 at the end of the first.
Riyadi switched to zone defense in the second, and were able to cut into the lead thanks to their Egyptian veteran, who demonstrated his one-on-one skills with a neat drive against Khazzouh.
The match continued to be a low-scoring affair, but Akl made his second triple to keep his side ahead.
Sagesse remained ahead 29-18 at halftime. It was clear that Riyadi were suffering offensively, with their players clearly exhausted on the back of Game 5 the previous night. They shot 3-of-10 from the free throw line in the first half.
Ali Mahmoud nailed a half-court shot to win around $3,500 presented by XXL drink, which Riyadi hoped would boost their confidence in the second half.
It clearly worked, as Riyadi clawed back the deficit to only four points with some fine work from Ahmad and Abdelnour. Abou Chakra was forced to ask for a timeout after their lead was cut to 33-29 with six minutes left in the third.
Ahmad made it a two-point game with an easy layup, but Julian Khazzouh gave Sagesse some breathing space with a three-pointer followed by a two-pointer by Spencer. However, Riyadi reduced the deficit to only three at the end of the third – 37-40.
Amir Saoud scored a three-point bomb to tie the score at 40 early in the fourth, and things started to turn around when Ahmad scored from a fast break to give Riyadi their first lead 42-40.
Saoud continued his impressive form in the few minutes that he played, netting another triple as Riyadi led 45-40.
They continued to control the rhythm with Sagesse failing to reply, as they eventually ran out victors 57-50 to clinch the title of the strongest and most controversial league in the history of the Lebanese basketball.
This is their eighth title in 10 years, and 24th in their history.
Meanwhile, Sagesse failed to put an end to the 10-year wait since their last crown in 2004, but this remained their best finish since 2006.