BEIRUT (Lebanon) – Al Riyadi wrote themselves in the annals of WASL-West Asia as its first-ever champions following a 114-100 conquest of Gorgan in Game 2 of the Final, Wednesday night at the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Zouk Mikael.
Buoyed by the raucous home crowd, the home team steamrolled in the middle quarters and never looked back, basically turning the final period into an early celebration as they went on to add another title to a rich collection.
“I want to thank all Al Riyadi fans for being the number one player today — not the sixth man, the number one,” expressed head coach Ahmad Farran postgame. “It was an amazing game and experience for us on a personal level.”
“This game was a do-or-die for us. Going back to Iran was not an option for us. We did everything, we prepared our game very well. Our players stepped up and executed and this is the result,” he added. “I’m very proud of this.”
Duop Reath led the way with 29 points and 6 rebounds, together with an assist, 2 steals, and a block as he proved why he’s tagged as the club’s ‘missing piece.’
Main man Wael Arakji produced 21 points on a 70-percent-clip from the field, 3 rebounds, and 5 assists, while Kevin Murphy provided 18 markers.
The trio starred in the team’s second-quarter assault to give their side the lead for good, making 21 of the team’s 30-point output for a 58-43 lead at the half.
Gorgan, however, came back from that big deficit and came to within just six twice in the third quarter, but that proved to be their last hurrah as Amir Saoud and Hayk Gyokchyan conspired to restore order and put the game away.
Saoud finished with 18 points while Gyokchyan delivered 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists in the win that saw the squad shoot 58-percent from the field.
“Thank you for the fans that came. It was beautiful, to be honest,” said Arakji, who earned STEP AHEAD Player of the game honors. “I have a lot of nice memories in this court, and it was great to share this court with Riyadi fans this time.”
Gorgan, on the other hand, were led by the triple-double outing of Perry Petty with 29 points, 12 rebounds, and 12 assists in the crushing loss.
Behnam Yakhchali had 19 points and 9 rebounds. Antanas Udras made 17 points and 7 boards, while Sajjad Pazrofteh added 11 markers as the quartet carried the fight on a night Mohammad Jamshidi got held to only 6 points.
“My players were very tired because of the tough game we had in our local league. And the long trip that we had,” said head coach Mehran Hatami.
“But we have time to solve our problems that we had tonight and I hope the next time, our performance will be better,” he added.
Now, Al Riyadi and Gorgan, together with third-placer Beirut Club, will all represent the West Asia League in the highly-awaited WASL Final 8 in June.