Lebanese Basketball League- Preview: Hoops vs Byblos

24 Feb.2017- Before taking on Riyadi next week, Byblos clash with Hoops hoping to maintain their great run.

Hoops have been playing better basketball since acquiring Vladan and integrating Omar Thomas into their lineup. Their OT win against Sagesse showed that this team doesn’t lack character and can maintain itself in hard times. Vladan has this imposing presence that most centers can’t handle. Facing up against Ebi, the Serbian has a bit of an advantage as he can man handle him down low. With Joe Abi Kheres and Ali Kanaan pairing up with Ebi, they might limit his movement but beware of Omar Thomas who would benefit from the double team to free up and knock down his shots. Offensively, Ebi is at ease as the slow Vladan can’t catch up with him. I would assume that Hoops would play a kind of zone defense to limit the Nigerian.

Hoops’ back-court has been one of the most energetic this league has ever seen. With Ali Mezher and Izzak Kaissi running the floor, few can handle them. Isolating Ali from the group is the biggest task for Byblos. Taking him out of the picture would diminish Hoops’ chances of winning. Jay Youngblood might be the guy to take him on as in return Ali will guard Jay. Ali has proved he can match up with the best, as he guarded Terrell quite well ( He still managed 34 but still it’s Terrell). As for Izzat, he will probably duel with Tarek Ammoury who has been elevating his game recently and showing he can fill the shoes of Clay Tucker. Whether Tucker is playing tonight or not, Byblos showed that every player is stepping up and can assume his role.

With Akl probably out, Ali Mahmoud is showing why he was called the best PG in the league. Great leadership and commanding of the game, Byblos have not skipped a beat. With Omar Turk also coming off the bench, Byblos have many options to disrupt Hoops’ defense. Keeping in mind that Antonio Hayman is getting better game after game, Byblos need fresh players ready to maintain the same kind of pressure on their opponents.

This game is crucial, Hoops want to avoid last spot and Byblos don’t want to put their 2nd spot in jeopardy before taking on Riyadi. This is going to be tense.