Byblos, Riyadi clash in Super Cup.
BEIRUT: A week after clinching their first official title ever in the Lebanese cup, Byblos will aim to topple Riyadi's reign over domestic basketball when they face off in the Super cup Saturday, 5 p.m. local time. The match will take place in the new 8,000-capacity stadium in Zouk, the biggest and most modern stadium in Lebanon.
The match will bring together the top two teams in Lebanese basketball, with Byblos aiming to prove their legitimacy by winning both the Henry Chalhoub friendly tournament and the Lebanese Cup titles -- both of which did not feature Riyadi. The Jbeil side have been in scintillating form as they remain unbeaten this season, having showed huge offensive prowess led by American newcomer Steven Burtt and compatriot Jay Youngblood. Burtt has been the recent Jbeil revelation, netting 29 points to lead Byblos past Sagesse in the final last Saturday 86-71.
"I have heard a lot about Riyadi, but I am looking to step up to the challenge" Burtt said.
However, Burtt might have to do it on his own this time, as teammate Youngblood could miss out due to a groin injury. Byblos coach Nenad Vucnic has attempted this season to play with three foreign guards, with American Sherwood Brown the third player, while relying on five local names in the front court, Joe Vogel, William Pharis, Ali Kanaan, Bassel Bawji and Joe Abi Khers.
However, it has left Vucinic with limited options in the backcourt line on the bench. One of the options for Vucinic could be switching Bawji to position 3, which he used to play with Mouttahed and Champville.
Elsewhere, things haven't been as smooth for champions Riyadi.
The yellow side had a disappointing run at the Arab Club Championship, exiting the tournament in the first round with one win and two losses, something they hadn't experienced in a decade.
But the 24-time league champions did not waste time in making major changes, re-signing American point forward Jeremiah Massey while recruiting American center Arnette Moultrie to replace the underperforming Shawn King.
"Moultrie showed big potential as he netted 10 points and 14 rebounds in 20 minutes during a friendly match against Louaize recently," Riyadi assistant coach Ahmad Farran said.
"But to be honest, he is still out of shape and yet to reach the level we expect".
"He will have a certain role in this game, we will try to use him in the best possible way, but fortunately for us we will have our full squad back including Ismael Ahmad and Ali Mahmoud -- both of whom have been out for more than a month."
"Byblos is a dangerous team, they are still unbeaten this season, but this game is a test for both of us. For them, they will try to prove they can beat us, while for us we will try to make our fans happy again," Farran added.
Riyadi will hope to kick start their season and they have all the tools to be on the winning side, as for Byblos they will need an inspired performance to add the yellow side to their list of victims this season.
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