Champville stun Riyadi to level series

Champville silenced the critics as they defeated reigning champions Riyadi Beirut 96-88 to level the best-of-seven semifinal series 1-1 Sunday at Dik al-Mehde.

Champville were on the receivingend of local critics after slumping to a 44-point opening loss last Friday, but they had the perfect reaction by wrapping up an impressive victory over the defending champions.

The hosts began the game very focused and determined, as they matched Riyadi’s intensity from Game 1, controlling the boards and sharing the ball comfortably. Although Georgian center Nikoloz struggled to score against Riyadi’s big men, Deshawn Sims, Bassel Bawji and Nadim Souaid were present to give the home side a 25-24 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The match remained close but Riyadi managed to gain the upper hand thanks to American forward Jeremiah Massey who hit two triples in this period, but, led by veteran point guard Rony Fahed, Champville clawed back the deficit to a single point at halftime, 45-46.

Against all odds, Champville controlled the third quarter with an impressive team effort, as all five players were efficient on both ends. Nikoloz found his range after struggling in the first half, while Sims and Souaid continued to hit the scoreboard. Riyadi were out-of-sync as Champville led by 11 going in the fourth.

The visitors pushed hard in an attempt to stay in contention and had a 12-0 run to overturn the deficit and lead by one point at 81-80.

But Champville refused to quit as they managed to score 16 points in the last five minutes compared with Riyadi’s eight to steal a vital win and level the final four series at 1-1.

Souaid starred for Champville with 22 points while Nikoloz added 20 points and 11 rebounds, Sims also contributed with 16 points and six rebounds. Fahed added 15 points.

Ismael Ahmad top scored for Riyadi with 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Elijah Holman and Fadi al-Khatib scored 18 and 17 points respectively.

Elsewhere, UBA Saturday snatched a road win over Sagesse in the semifinal series opener to lead 1-0 at Ghazir.

The guests started the game with a very strong first quarter to lead 26-15. But Sagesse won second the period 19-14. However it was not enough to take a lead and get a victory that evening.

Bosnian-Serbian center Ratko Varda fired a double-double by scoring 21 points and 13 rebounds for the winners, while AmericanJay Youngblood chipped in 20 points, five rebounds and five assists.

Elie Rustom produced a double-double by scoring 13 points, 10 rebounds and five assists and American center Terrence Leatheradded 16 points and seven rebounds respectively for Sagesse.

And to add to the hosts’ woes, American point guard Brandon Heath, who made his debut for Sagesse, didn’t feature in the second half after battling a bout of flu.

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