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Strong Group repeats over Beirut Club, sets clash vs Al-Riyadi Beirut for DIBC title

Dwight Howard casually put up a 20-20 as if he is still in the NBA. UAE Basketball Association
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—Strong Group Athletics once again drubbed Beirut Club in the Dubai International Basketball Championship, this time with a spot in the final on the line as the Filipino squad whipped the Lebanese team, 94-72, in the second semifinal early Sunday (Philippine Time) at the Al-Nasr Sports Club.

Just like in their first meeting, Kevin Quiambao put up another brilliant performance for Strong Group, but this time, Dwight Howard put up a monster game reminiscent of his prime days in the NBA.

The game was somehow close this time at the end of the first quarter as Strong Group only held a five-point lead, 22-17.

However, Strong Group pulled away in the next two quarters and opened a 73-49 lead at the end of the third period.

A putback by Howard to start the fourth quarter gave Strong Group its largest lead at 26, 75-49.

Beirut Club still tried to mount a comeback and cut the lead down to 16, 86-70, with a little over four minutes left.

However, Justine Sanchez and Balti Baltazar each completed a three-point play to put the game away for Strong Group, which won by the same final margin against Beirut Club in their first meeting in the group stages.

Howard finished with 26 points, 20 rebounds, one assist, one block, and three steals for Strong Group, which will enter the championship game later Sunday.

Quiambao added 18 points, three rebounds, and one steal.

Dar Tucker put up 22 points, seven rebounds, and one assist, while Alexander Saleh added 19 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, and one steal for Beirut Club, which was denied of an all-Lebanese final for the second straight year as its cross-town rival Al-Riyadi Beirut clinched the first final spot by beating Al-Ahli Tripoli, 83-73.

Former NLEX import Manny Harris fired 22 points with eight rebounds, four assists, and one steal to lead Al-Riyadi, which pulled away with a 34-15 second quarter but let Al-Ahli Tripoli crawl its way back to the game in the second half before holding on.

Wael Arakji added 16 points, two rebounds, and six assists for Al-Riyadi, which will instead face Strong Group in a rematch of last year's quarterfinal but this time with the championship at stake.

Wajdi Dawo made 18 points and three rebounds to lead Al-Ahli Tripoli.

Box Scores:

Strong Group 94-Howard 26, Quiambao 18, Baltazar 15, Heading 10, Moore 7, Roberson 6, Sanchez 5, Escandor 3, Cagulangan 2, Liwag 2, Ynot 0

Beirut Club 72-Tucker 22, Saleh 19, El-Darwich 8, Haidar 6, Rabay 6, Jarrouj 5, Mahmoud 3, Mezher 3, Mechref 0

Quarterscores: 22-17, 50-34, 73-49, 94-72

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