DOHA (Qatar) – Revenge is a dish best served cold, as they say, and Al Riyadi did exactly that by tearing apart BC Astana, 101-69, for a dominant start to their FIBA West Asia Super League (WASL) Final 8 campaign, Sunday night at the Lusail Multipurpose Hall.

The reigning two-time West Asia League champions overcame a sluggish start before pulling away for good after the halftime intermission, eventually earning a payback so sweet against the team that crushed their medal hopes in the inaugural competition.

It could be recalled that the ball club from Kazakhstan beat an injury-riddled Yellow Castle in the Third-Place Game of the previous Final 8 in Dubai by way of a 94-90 decision to stand on the podium, together with maiden champions Manama and Kuwait Club.

Al Riyadi waited so long to avenge that defeat and it couldn’t have been any more satisfying to have accomplished as much, and in a manner that also served as a warning for the others.

The win, furthermore, served as a solid warm-up before their much-awaited Beirut Derby against long-time rivals Sagesse SC on Monday, May 27, at 21:00 local time.

Game heroes: The crew attacked on all fronts, with Thon Maker top-scoring with 17 points and 8 rebounds, together with 2 assists and 3 blocks. The former NBA forward netted an efficiency of 25 and went on to earn STEP AHEAD Player of the Game honors.

Hayk Gyokchyan and Jonathon Simmons supplied 16 points apiece and hauled down at least 6. rebounds. Elmedin Kikanovic made 15 points while Amir Saoud chipped in 10.

Wael Arakji and Ali Mansour, meanwhile, made their presence felt as well in the vengeful win as they were the key cogs that sat out the Third-Place Game due to injuries.

The 2022 FIBA Asia Cup MVP, for one, scattered 8 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and a steal. Mansour had 8 points as well, along with 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals.

Turning point: Al Riyadi saw themselves in a see-saw battle against the Central Asia representatives until Jonathan Simmons nailed a jumper to give them the lead. That shot of his would actually trigger a 10-3 attack to finish the first first quarter in their favor, 20-14.

They would be in control the rest of the way, but it wasn’t until the third canto where it became a lopsided affair. The team outscored their counterparts, 29-12, to construct a 73-48 advantage entering the final chapter. Their lead would balloon to as big as 37 points.

Stats don’t lie: The Lebanese powerhouse shot an impressive 58.4-percent from the field, with much of their production coming from the inside as they scored 50 in the paint. They also dominated the battle of the boards, 45-25, 11 of which they collected on offense.

They said: “I’m really proud of my players after having a small break after the Lebanese championship. I didn’t expect them to perform like this, but the guys proved me wrong. So, all the credit goes to the players. We move on.” – Ahmad Farran, Head Coach, Al Riyadi

“It was an amazing game. We set the tone early. It’s always important to show our character in the first game and hopefully, to keep building on it game by game. We know that we came here to win every game that we play but it’s gonna be easier said than done.” – Hayk Gyokchyan, Al Riyadi

“We can say a lot of things, but from season to season, things go different. I mean, we cannot count what a team did last season that it’s something they have to do this season. We have to focus on what we have on our hands right now.” Fotis Takianos, Head Coach, BC Astana

“Like Coach said, last year is different. This is a new tournament. It happens. Some teams lose, some teams win. It’s OK.” – Rustam Murzagaliyev, BC Astana