Lebanese Basketball League-Preview: Byblos vs Homenetmen

11 Mar.2017– Byblos host Homenetmen today in a game that promises to be a good one.

Byblos have lost twice to Riyadi and once before to Homenetmen. This game does have a psychologic twist. The Jbeili team needs to defeat one of the two strongest contenders so that they can feel they are up there with the best. Losing today would also give Riyadi the 2nd spot and could start an era of questioning themselves. Are we championship material?

Byblos’ biggest problem incarnates in Fadi El Khatib. He has an advantage on every player on their roster. Faster than Ali Kanaan, stronger than Ammoury and definitely faster and stronger than Clay Tucker. Finding a way to push him to the sides of the court, double team him, and deny him the ball is crucial. If he gets hot, it’s practically game over. Playing zone to limit his one on one match-ups is very dangerous as 4 out of 5 players can drill the three in Homenetmen’s lineup.

As for Ebi, he will face Ater Majok down low. Ebi has shown he can handle big centers with the likes of Robert Upshaw when he goes on offense. It’s the defensive duties that we question. Aminu had the performance of a lifetime against him. Stuffing the ball on many occasions with facial after facial. Double-teaming for the help might not help at all as leaving spaces on the opposite side for Dewayne Jackson or Fadi is devastating.

Talking about Jackson, he should limit his long-range shooting and look to penetrate the basket as he will spread the defense and force his man to follow him outside. Jackson will be happy to drive the lane on either Kanaan, Ebi or even Abi Kheres when they leave the paint.

Yet the most awaited match-up is between Jay Youngblood and Kevin Galloway. Both can drive the lane, assist their teammates and take outside shots. Galloway might have a slight advantage of size but Jay makes it up with speed. Separating Jay from Rodrigue Akl and making them play as 2 units rather than one is very important to break Byblos’ flow. Together they work as facilitator and scorer, as they can both thread the needle and take their open shots. Suffocating Rodrigue with Elie Chamoun or Karam Mechref coming in will give Byblos less  options to operate.

Byblos will have to count on Tarek Ammoury to pitch in on the scoring end as Clay Tucker seems to be out of phase, and Homenetmen definitely will keep a close eye on Jay and Ebi. Finding his touch early will be critical.

A great game that we will definitely enjoy.