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Strong Group gets Sale in DIBC QFs after Al-Riyadi Beirut KOs Al-Nasr

Al-Riyadi Beirut denied Al-Nasr a quarterfinal spot despite the latter's comeback attempt. UAE Basketball Association
By Ivan Saldajeno

BINAN--Sale earned a quarterfinal date with Strong Group Athletics in the Dubai International Basketball Championship after Al-Riyadi Beirut eliminated Al-Nasr from contention with an 85-82 win on the final day of the elimination round on Thursday night at the latter's home floor.

Al-Nasr had an opportunity to steal the quarterfinal seat away from Sale after the latter lost to Tunisia, 77-73, on Wednesday night.

However, after a tight contest after the first three quarters, Al-Riyadi raced to a 14-point lead, 71-57, with 6:26 left in the fourth period, putting Al-Nasr's hopes in peril.

Al-Nasr responded with an 8-0 run off a timeout to cut the lead down to six, 71-65, with 4:35 to go.

Al-Riyadi regrouped and stretched its lead back to 10, 79-69, with 1:04 to go, but Al-Nasr replied with an 8-1 run that drew them to within three, 80-77, with 14 seconds remaining.

Karim Zeinoun somehow kept the door open for Al-Nasr to inch closer as he only made a split from the free throw line, but Faisal Ahmed missed a corner three and Zeinoun made up for his split by going 2-for-2 in his next pair of free throws to finally seal Al-Riyadi's win.

Marvelle Harris still had one last highlight for the game as he made a halfcourt shot before the buzzer sounded, although the outcome was already settled by then.

Ismail Ahmad showed that he could still ball at age 47 as he led Al-Riyadi, which swept Group A of play with a 5-0 record, with 19 points on 7-of-12 field goals, eight rebounds, two assists, one block, and one steal off the bench.

Mohamed Tabbara added 16 points and eight rebounds also off the bench.

Mohamed Harat fired 26 points on 9-for-14 shooting including 4-of-4 from outside the arc, 14 rebounds, two assists, and one steal for Al-Nasr, which dropped to a tie with Sale for fourth place at 2-3.

However, Sale owns the tiebreaker due to its 99-78 win against Al-Nasr on Monday.

Harris added 20 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, and three steals for Al-Nasr.

Box Scores:

Al-Riyadi Beirut 85-Ahmad 19, Tabbara 16, Mansour 14, Zeinoun 13, Arakji 10, Gyokchyan 9, Kikanovic 4, Sakanini 0, Daboul 0, Ziadeh 0

Al-Nasr 82-Harat 26, Harris 20, Ahmed 11, Mustafa 10, Lemon 5, H. Ablooshi 4, S. Ablooshi 4, Ashoor 2

Quarterscores: 25-18, 40-38, 62-55, 85-82

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