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Al Riyadi outduels Strong Group with Abdelmoneim's game-winner for Dubai International crown

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JUST SHORT. Strong Group Athletics nearly dethroned reigning champion Al Riyadi but succumbed to the buzzer-beating three of Ismail Ahmed Abdelmoneim to end their 33rd Dubai International Basketball Championship stint in second place. PHOTO: UAE Basketball Association
Heartbreak in UAE.
Strong Group Athletics (SGA) fell short of bringing home the 33rd Dubai International Basketball Championship title after suffering a stinging 77-74 defeat at the buzzer against now back-to-back champion Al Riyadi.
Ismail Ahmed Abdelmoneim, 47 years old, sank the game-clinching triple from an assist by Wael Arakji with less than three seconds to go in the final frame at the Shabab Al Ahli Club – Dubai on Sunday, January 28 (Monday, January 29, Manila time).
Despite improving from a quarterfinal exit last year with Nick Young and Shabazz Muhammad bolstering the lineup, Strong Group still failed to secure the country's second Dubai tilt.
A Philippine squad last won the tournament in 2020, with Renaldo Balkman and Andray Blatche leading the way for SGA under the Mighty Sports banner.
Both having an identical 7-0 record, the clash between the two undefeated teams delivered as expected, with the reigning Lebanese Basketball League titlist emerging triumphantly.
Momentum swung Al Riyadi's side in the early stretch until midway through the third quarter, with Ahmad Farran's wards establishing a 19-point lead at one point.
However, Charles Tiu's company refused to give up.
Andre Roberson and Jordan Heading came up big in SGA's massive 23-2 rally bridging through the fourth period to put the Philippine squad in front, 65-61, with 8:25 to play.
Undeterred by the rejuvenated Strong Group crew and unbothered Filipino crowd, Al Riyadi reclaimed the lead, 72-67, behind the buzzer-beating trey by Amir Saoud following a 24-second shot clock violation committed by the Philippine-based cagers.
SGA answered back with a quick 7-2 blitz capped by a Heading triple in the last 57.1 seconds remaining to tie things up at 74-all.
Roberson missed his potential game-winner in the three-point territory with 11 ticks left, setting the stage for Arajki to find a wide-open Abdelmoneim from the right wing to knock down the winning triple.
Al Riyadi and their fans erupted in a frenzy while silence embraced Strong Group and the Filipinos in the arena.
Former PBA reinforcement Manny Harris paced the Lebanese five with a team-high 23 points on 9/16 clip, alongside seven rebounds. Arakji, on the other hand, dealt much of his damage in the first half, listing 14 of his 16 points in the first two periods. The 2022 FIBA Asia Cup Most Valuable Player shot 8-of-11 on the field while collecting three rebounds and three assists.
For his part, Abdelmoneim, a 30-year professional basketball player commonly known as Somaa, contributed 10 points (4/5 field goals), including two from downtown, off the bench in 16 minutes of playing time.
Roberson exerted a double-double of 24 points and 13 rebounds laced by three assists in a losing effort. Dwight Howard added 18 markers and hauled 12 boards while Heading finished with 17.
Erstwhile PBA import McKenzie Moore poured 12 points as a substitute but left the court on a stretcher with 4:46 remaining in the final canto after sustaining an apparent non-contact right thigh injury.
SGA leading scorer Kevin Quiambao surprisingly went scoreless after going 0-for-5 in more than 37 minutes of action.

Last Modified: 2024-Jan-29 17.44.25 UTC+0800