Dubai International Tournament: Sala Stun Riyadi To Claim Gold
25 Feb.2017- After a wonderful performance in the semis for both Riyadi and AS Sala, the final matchup never looked better.
Riyadi started the game a bit shaky, turning the ball over easily. Overconfidence might have played a role in this bad start. Sala were very focused and always found the open man to lead 11-3 after 4 minutes. Riyadi soon found their touch with Aminu and Haidar pairing up on couple of occasions. Yet they were still turning the ball around easily as Sala made the best of these mistakes. Hitting Riyadi’s basket time and time again from down low. But a buzzer-beating backboard three-pointer shifted things in Riyadi’s favor but still trailed 23-18.
Riyadi’s defense was easily penetrated in the second. This was not the defense that marked the tournament in previous games. Amir Saoud’s introduction gave Riyadi a very much needed boost on both ends. 2 back to back threes cut the lead to 2. Riyadi were clicking on all cylinders but a late Sala surge gave them a 38-43 lead.
The start of the second half was not perfect for the Lebanese, still lacking focus and defensively they were very stagnant. Sala reinforced their lead to 13. Ismael did his best to get his team back in the game. Down low, Riyadi were getting hammered by Kordo and Najat. Riyadi did not show the image they showed all tournament long. Things were not going our way. To make things worse we were giving up the ball very easily. Eventually, the q ended in Sala’s favor 64-54.
Heading into the fourth, Riyadi fought valiantly to get back in the game. But Sala played great defense and with a slow tempo to kill the game. Mentally, Riyadi were beaten. On court, Sala were fully energized as if they were draining energy from fans and opposing players. Sala were finally crowned champions after defeating Riyadi 84-73.