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Emmett gives Riyadi 2-1 Final Four series lead.

Summary: Andre Emmett scored 24 of Riyadi's last 29 points to give the side an 88-81 win over Anibal Zahle in Manara Monday.

BEIRUT: Andre Emmett scored 24 of Riyadi's last 29 points to give the side an 88-81 win over Anibal Zahle in Manara Monday in the Final Four of the Lebanese Basketball League.

The win puts Riyadi in a 2-1 series lead after they overturned a stubborn and determined Anibal Zahle.

The visitors led for almost the entire game but a streak of 18 straight points by Emmett overturned the game and gave Riyadi a dramatic win.

In the end Emmett scored 46 points while Jay Youngblood scored 33 points for Anibal Zahle.

Riyadi made the odd decision of starting with newly acquired American Emmett on the bench, starting instead with Ali Mahmoud, Omar Turk, Jean Abdul-Nour, Ismael Ahmad and Ali Kanaan.

With Riyadi getting out in the fast break early on, the decision made more sense. When Emmett came on and committed three poor turnovers, including an offensive foul, the decision made even more sense. By the end of the game, it would make no sense at all.

What Riyadi couldn't do, however, was prevent Anibal Zahle from getting in the paint early on. Jay Youngblood, Mazen Mneimneh and Leroy Hurd all hurt Riyadi at the rim, especially Hurd who threw down a nasty alley-oop off Rodrigue Akl's feed.

Anibal Zahle moved smartly without the ball getting to the top of the key to break Riyadi's zone defense. Akl drained a jump shot from that very spot to give the visitors a 23-17 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Emmett's inclusion began to bear more fruit in the second quarter as the American poured in four baskets, two jump hooks, a layup and a fadeaway to keep Riyadi in the game, but just as in Game 1, Riyadi couldn't stop Anibal Zahle from scoring.

Akl and Youngblood simply refused to give Riyadi's defense a moment's peace while at the other end Riyadi couldn't execute. Emmett got into too many isolation situations, slowing down Riyadi's usually lightening-fast ball movement while Joe Vogel and Abdul-Nour both airballed 3-pointers.

By the halfway stage in the second quarter, Youngblood's free throw gave Anibal Zahle a 10-point lead at 38-28.

Two set play 3-pointers by Turk and Mahmoud got Riyadi back into the game but an impossible layup and a 3-pointer from Youngblood soon opened up the gap again.

Emmett completed his halftime turn around by scoring Riyadi's last eight points of the quarter to take the two sides into half time at 43-43. Emmett and Youngblood had 18 and 19 points respectively at the half.

The exciting nature of the game came to a grinding halt in the second half when the home fans' reaction to a technical foul stopped play for around 15 minutes.

When the game resumed, little changed. Riyadi kept on scoring but so did Anibal Zahle. The story of the game was encapsulated in a10-second stint late in the third quarter. Emmett drove hard to the basket, drawing the foul and sinking the basket to cut Anibal Zahle's lead to five points. On the inbounds, Youngblood went straight at the court and repeated the trick for Anibal. Every time Riyadi threw something at the visitors, they responded instantly.

Anibal Zahle saw out the third quarter with a 66-59 lead.

In the fourth quarter Emmett simply took over, setting up a decisive game in Zahle Wednesday.

Copyright 2012, The Daily Star. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:May 1, 2012
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