By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA--Al-Riyadi overcame an early disaster and held off Mighty Sports in overtime, 100-95, in the penultimate day of the Dubai International Basketball Tournament eliminations at the Al-Ahli Club in Dubai early Thursday (Philippine Time).
The Lebanese squad used a 25-point turnaround in a span of a little over seven minutes to turn an early hole to a double-digit lead but still needed another five minutes to finally repulse the Filipino side looking to rack up wins in its remaining two games to exit the tourney on a high note.
A four-point play from Gary David spark Mighty's 14-3 run to open a 20-8 lead with 3:31 left in the first quarter.
But Al-Riyadi outscored Mighty, 31-6, during a moment in the game spanning the first and the second periods to go up, 39-26, with 6:18 left before halftime.
After the intermission, Mighty launched an 11-0 run to come to within one, 49-50, and eventually reclaimed the lead, 59-57, later in the third quarter following a three-point play from Justin Brownlee.
The game became tight from there, but Al-Riyadi appeared to have already left the woods after taking an 80-77 lead with 8.5 seconds left in regulation.
Chris Tiu, however, was fouled by Joseph Zaloum while taking a buzzer-beating triple. Tiu made all three free throws, sending the game to extra time.
Then it was Mighty's turn to have a chance to pull away for good, opening a 91-87 lead with 2:48 left.
But Al-Riyadi went on a 10-2 run to take the lead for good, 97-93, with 30 seconds left.
Justin Brownlee still kept the game interesting with two free throws with 24 seconds left to cut the lead to two, but Branko Cvetkovic iced the game with his own two charities with 20 seconds on the clock even as Mighty's three balls did not hit the mark in the end.
Cvetkovic led Al-Riyadi with 23 points, four rebounds, two assists, and one steal, while Abdul-Wahab Aminu added 22 points, 10 rebounds, three assists, and three steals.
Brownlee came close to a triple-double, tallying 27 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists with one steal, while former NBA Draft second overall pick Hasheem Thabeet had his best performance of the cagefest, contributing 16 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks, and one steal for Mighty in a game where Kiefer Ravena was given a day off.
Mighty will try to avoid being shut out in its final game on Friday (Philippine Time) against Ball Above All.
Al-Riyadi 100-Cvetkovic 23, Aminu 22, Haidar 16, Ismail 14, Saoud 10, Arakji 4, Samaha 4, El Noue 3
Mighty 95-Brownlee 27, Thabeet 16, McGuire 14, Tiu 11, Miller 8, David 7, Araña 5, Teng 4, Belga 3, Intal 0, Douthit 0, Manuel 0
Quarterscores: 23-22, 45-36, 62-60, 80-80, 100-95
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