Beirut is witnessing the first jump ball of the 27th edition of Houssam El Dine Hariri Basketball Tournament that will be held at Manara.
The tournament was created after the tragic death of Houssam El Dine El Hariri on the 23rd of October 1990 in a car accident, when he lost control over the steering wheel.Instead of keeping a bitter memory of Hariri's loss, his sports-oriented family decided to create a tournament to honor him.
The tournaments were previously held in Saida, but following increased tensions in the area back then, the organizers decided to reallocate in Saeb Salam, Beirut.
Exceptionally, basketball lovers have watched four games in a row on the first day due to the national mourning for Lebanese soldiers on September 8, previously scheduled as the first day of the competition.
Two games will be played from September 10 to 14, at 5:30 PM, and 8:30 PM. The closure of the tournament is on September 15 with the final play.
Eight teams are participating in the tournament, divided into two groups.
SK Cherkasy from Ukraine;
Dalia from Tunisia;
Sariyat Ramallah from Palestine;
Riyadi Beirut from Lebanon.
This 27th edition of the tournament is very special for the basketball community, and especially for Mr. Ziad Rawas, current president of the cup, and Mrs. Bahia Hariri, president of the executive council, for their continuous efforts in mobilizing new teams that bring a new, refreshing spirit to the tournament.
This is the very first time a Palestinian team participates in the cup, joining after long preparations with Sakakini, ranked as a top player in Palestine alongside two foreign players that played in the Lebanese league, Jay Youngblood and Tod Obrien.
It will also be the first time that two Europeans teams will be participating in this tournament, noting that SK Cherkasy Monkeys finished in the fourth position in the Ukrainian Super league, and AEK Larnaka finished second in the Cypriot cup on their second participation. In an interview for Middle East Sight, Riyadi captain Jean Abdel Nour said this participation "will improve the level of the competition, a great opportunity for us to prepare for the Asia cup". When asked about Riyadi's promise to supporters, the so called "minister of defense" said, "last year, we lost both Hariri and Asia cups at this time of the year. I promise our great supporters to achieve whatever possible to make it up and win both cups this year".
The 2016 tournament was thrilling thanks to the huge number of fans and attendees, the strong performance of participating teams, especially that of Homenetmen being crowned for the first time as champions of the Hariri Tournament. Although Riyadi were the best performing team of the tournament with 16 wins, they didn’t reach the finals.
Photo courtesy of Sportscode
Will Homenetmen defend the title, and double their efforts for the second title?
Will Sariyat Ramallah reach the finals and grab the first cup from the first participation?
Will any of the Europeans teams win the title or will Riyadi conquer again the tournament?
A lot of questions would likely cross the mind of Lebanese basketball lovers, yet positive results will only be revealed when players perform with good defense in balance with excellent offensive skills.