For the second time this season, the toughest rivals met again in a crucial game, where the greens wanted revenge of their first loss, facing Riyadi’s giants who aimed at remaining unbeatable for the season. As a matter of fact, the fans had a mixture of curiosity and concern as these teams’ last encounter showed a significant level difference, which carried many consequences on Sagesse team.
In the traditionally-crowded Manara Stadium, the first whistle took place at 5 pm, with Paul Khoury, Fadi El Khatib, Elie Mechantaf, Jerod Ward and Kenny Satterfield as Sagesse starters, facing Ali Mahmoud, Joe Vogel, Omar Turk, Ismail Ahmad and Tony Madison.
The first quarter was mainly marked by the scoring absence, the low shooting average and the various turnovers committed by both poles. Focusing on defense, the yellows applied an effective man-to-man, with double efforts on stopping Sagesse’s key players, yet unable to create their usual big gap as Sagesse’s defense was successful as well. With the fans jumping up and down on their seats, both rivals went neck and neck in an equivalent level, ending the first quarter with a tight score of 2 points difference, 13-15 to Riyadi, after an essential 3 pointer signed by Mechantaf on the buzzer.
In a similar way, the second quarter started with a man-to-man defense from Sagesse, turning to a box-and-one on Riyadi’s Tony Madison, against a loose man-to-man applied by the yellows. Both teams insisted on putting on the show, and what a show! A 3 pointers war between Ward and Khatib, against mighty Madison, with each team scoring 3 three pointers in a row! With more enthusiasm and suspense given to the fans, the quarter ended in a tight 35-35. The participation of Ghaleb Rida in the second half boosted up Riyadi’s score by scoring 7 points, but came unproductive however in stopping Sagesse’s tiger. Managing to grab various offensive rebounds, Riyadi maintained their 6 points lead, to face later on the trio Ward-Satterfield-El Khatib, who uttered Sagesse’s desire in being an extremely tough opponent to the end. And so, both teams entered the last quarter with a score of 54-52 to Riyadi. The fourth quarter saw two teams unable to impose their rhythm to the game, remaining at a close level and unable to secure the win for neither side. In point of fact, Riyadi benefited offensively from the foul trouble on Sagesse (Mechantaf and Ward), who yet managed to tie twice and keep the game at heat. Nonetheless, the different unnecessary mistakes committed by the greens cost them a loss, with Omar Turk’s successful five points that gave Riyadi a comfortable 6 points lead (78-72) at the end of the game.
Best scorer of the game is the valuable Tony Madison with 35 points, followed by Fadi El Khatib with 24 points.
Despite the green’s loss, the fans were thrilled to find Sagesse a different team, able to compete and lead a suspenseful battle that could have been won. Dragan’s efforts are visible and his defensive system is proving its efficiency, giving the fans the hope to finally find the light at the end of the dark tunnel they’ve been going through. All this sheds light on a heated final six especially with competition such as Riyadi, Sagesse and Blue Stars.