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Hoops push Mouttahed but eventually concede.

Summary: Mouttahed Tripoli took a temporary lead in the Lebanese basketball league Wednesday, holding on to beat a plucky Hoops Club 79-76...

BEIRUT: Mouttahed Tripoli took a temporary lead in the Lebanese basketball league Wednesday, holding on to beat a plucky Hoops Club 79-76 while title hopefuls Sagesse got off to a disappointing start to their campaign losing 71-70 thanks to a last-minute basket against Anibal Zahle.

Little was expected of Hoops Club at the start of the season following their disappointing campaign last year but the Nahr al-Mott team have already beaten a final-four contender and only lost to another due to a sloppy opening quarter from which they never recovered and below par 3-point shooting.

Led by the indefatigable Austin Johnson, Mouttahed took advantage of careless Hoops turnovers in the first quarter to race out to an early lead, hitting 66 percent of their 3-point attempts -- as opposed to Hoops' 14 percent -- to move out 24-15 leaders.

Mohammad Hamdar and Ali Fakheridinne -- a Lebanese international and Asian Champions Cup winner with Riyadi last season -- did their bit for the Hoops cause, swatting away four shots in the second quarter to hold back Mouttahed's lightening attack.

Despite sewing up the defensive end of the court, Hoops struggled to take advantage of Mouttahed's 10 turnovers -- with Johnson the main perpetrator -- failing to cut the deficit going into halftime at 42-31.

Hoops came out firing in the second half, Oguchi Chamberlain and Ricky Clemons finally showing off their considerable talents. Mouttahed stemmed the flow of turnovers but Hoops' big men killed them on the boards as well as finding their 3-point stroke to claw back two points in the third quarter with the scores at 65-56. Hoops took their momentum into the final quarter but time ran out as they went down 79-76.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Oct 27, 2011
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