Team Pilipinas-Social Café, Jeddah United advance; Syriana IKK stuns Lebanese

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Team Pilipinas-Social Cafe poses for a group picture.
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Syriana IKK basketball team. (AN photos)
Updated 10 May 2017
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Team Pilipinas-Social Café, Jeddah United advance; Syriana IKK stuns Lebanese

JEDDAH: Defending champion Team Pilipinas-Social Café guaranteed itself a place in the semifinals along with Jeddah United but the Syriana IKK’s stunning victory over fancied Lebanese community basketball team shook up the race for the remaining two berths entering this weekend’s final week of eliminations in the 2nd Open Intercultural Basketball Tournament.
Team Pilipinas of coach Francis Odinar Magat recovered from an 82-69 defeat by the Lebanese to start its campaign, and now sits on a 3-1 win-loss record next to Jeddah United’s clean 4-0 card.
Friday, the Filipinos won by default over the Saudi community team that followed their decisive 66-50 victory over Egypt on Thursday in back-to-back wins that sealed their final four spot in the tournament at the spanking new Jeddah United basketball court in Al-Shati district here.
Also Thursday, Jeddah United had to dig deep into its arsenal to beat unpredictable Saudis 73-67 that gave coach Naoufal Uariachi’s squad that 4-0 record that included JU’s 64-62 win over the Lebanese in a classic of a game that could have gone either way during the second week of eliminations.
Samy Uariachi hit the game winner for Jeddah United after a miss by the Lebanese with four seconds to play. The defeat upset the momentum of the Lebanese who had beaten the Saudis 85-71 the night before.
The Lebanese were holding a 2-1 record at the start of their game against Syriana Friday. Despite the loss against JU the Lebanese team coached by Mohammed Bunni were heavy favorites against the winless Syriana of coach Hassan Zeineddein.
But on this night Syriana was not to be denied and hammered out an emotional 66-50 victory over a Lebanese side that could not seem to get going especially its 1-2 punch of American import Muhammad Abdulaleem and point guard Ahmad Kheir.
Zeineddein and his boys surprised the enemy with heads-up basketball all night long.
Syriana’s Filipino import Lisztian Amparado played like there was no tomorrow mocking the Lebanese defense to spark an 11-0 run to start the second quarter for a 23-10 Syriana lead.
Syriana built a 21-point lead at 47-36 at the end of the third quarter and then never allowed the Lebanese to come close with a smothering defense the rest of the way. Khermo and Ahmad Khorbatly, among others, were also particularly outstanding as Syriana hardly felt the absence of American David Patrick.
The final elimination round games pit the Saudi team against Syriana in the second game at 10 p.m. Thursday with the Pilipinas sponsored by Social Café courtesy of Abdullah Zahrani taking on Jeddah United in the first game at 8 p.m.
On Friday it will be the Lebanese against Egypt in a lone game at 7 p.m.
Whatever happens in the rest of the concluding games the worst that could happen to the Filipinos is to finish No. 3 for the semis. Jeddah United would go down to No. 1 if it lost against the Filipinos.
Syriana is not in control of its fate, facing a must-win against the Saudis and hoping Egypt beats Lebanese on Friday.
The Lebanese simply have to win against Egypt to qualify as No. 3. A combination of Syriana and Egypt victories would result in a 2-3 tie between Syriana and Lebanese in which case Syriana goes in as No. 4 by virtue of the winner over the other rule to apply in the tiebreak.
This Intercultural basketball event is only in its second year and yet it has generated a lot of interest in the community thanks to Event Manager Mohammad Shobain, Consultant-adviser Mohamed Bayoumi and Obaid Madani who helped facilitate the use of the Jeddah United sports complex. Also in the committee running the event is Ahmed Helmi, head referee of the Saudi Basketball Federation. Young Farhan Sopero, a discovery of Bayoumi, does the play-by-play account of the games.


Virat Kohli, India praised for ‘perfect finish’ to historic Australia tour

Updated 46 min 37 sec ago
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Virat Kohli, India praised for ‘perfect finish’ to historic Australia tour

  • Virat Kohli's team will return home to India triumphant without having lost a Test or limited-overs series
  • The Test victory was India’s first in 71 years of trying in Australia

NEW DELHI: India’s cricketers are being hailed a once-in-a-generation side as the World Cup looms, capping off a “perfect finish” to their historic Australia tour with a maiden one-day international bilateral series victory.
Virat Kohli's team will return home to India triumphant without having lost a Test or limited-overs series — a first on Australian soil.
The Test victory was India’s first in 71 years of trying in Australia, a crowning achievement burnished by another historic first as the visitors clinched the ODI series 2-1 in Melbourne on Friday.
India earlier drew a three-match Twenty20 showdown 1-1 after one match was washed out, ending the tour without losing a series in any format.
“Perfect Finish To Dream Tour,” declared the Mail Today daily on page one Saturday.
“One-Day wonder Down Under,” ran a front page headline in the weekend edition of the Indian Express newspaper. Other Indian dailies called it a “perfect ending” and “series of firsts.”

Virat Kohli enjoyed some downtime at the Australian Open after a successful tour Down Under -- seen here meeting tennis legend Roger Federer with his wife Anushka Sharma. (AFP)


Captain Kohli, riding on a high, is already looking ahead to the World Cup in May, confident his men have hit their stride as the coveted ODI cup looms.
“We are feeling confident and balanced as a side with the World Cup in mind,” the skipper said.
“In all the three series we bounced back in different stages, and I think that builds team character ahead, especially when the World Cup is so near. If everyone contributes at different stages, it is then you win a big tournament.”
The India side is being tipped as one of the best in years.
“The teams that used to come here (to Australia), you can’t compare those teams to this (one),” veteran commentator Harsha Bhogle told broadcasters Sony Six after India’s seven-wicket win in the third ODI.
“It has only happened twice in history that a visiting team has won a Test and ODI series in Australia.”
Indian cricketer-turned-commentator Sanjay Manjrekar also praised their “nonchalant” confidence on foreign soil and pointed to “signs that they are setting themselves high standards” going forward.
Special praise was reserved for veteran wicketkeeper-batsman Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who defied critics to smash an unbeaten 87 and register his third straight ODI half-century.
The 37-year-old had been accused by some of losing his lustre as a finisher but was named man of the series after driving India’s tricky 231-run chase at the MCG.
Legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar praised Dhoni on Twitter, saying he “once again played the role of the anchor beautifully!.”
India now head to New Zealand for a limited-overs series, starting with the first of five ODIs in Napier on January 23.
The 50-over World Cup begins in England on May 30.