Sporting Al Riyadi Beirut
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|Nickname||The Yellow Castle|
|Leagues||Lebanese Basketball League|
FIBA Asia Champions Cup
|Arena||Saeb Salam Arena|
|Location||Manara, Beirut, Lebanon|
|Team colors||Yellow, blue and white|
|Head coach||Ahmad Farran|
|Retired numbers||2 (6, 10)|
Sporting Al Riyadi Beirut, also known as Al Riyadi Beirut or Sporting Club (Arabic: النادي الرياضي بيروت) is a Lebanese basketball club based in Manara, Beirut. The club holds 28 Lebanese Basketball League titles, 2 Asian Clubs Championship and 5 Arab Clubs Championship; Al Riyadi holds more titles than any other club in Lebanese Basketball.
An amateur side also exists, where participants can sign up for classes and train for preparation to become professional basketball players. The club also holds ping-pong, martial arts, and other sports.
The club's foundation began in 1934 by Hussein Sejaan, Hassan Ladki, Fouad Zantout, Youssef Shaker, Mustafa Shaker, Zouheir Yatim, Helmi Chehab, and Wafic Nsouli at that time. In 1945, the Ministry of the Interior gave permission to "Riyadi Club in Beirut" to get involved in various sports in its location in Raouché. Some of these sports were basketball, volleyball, handball, tennis, and table tennis (Ping Pong).
In 1947, Al Riyadi club moved from Raouché to Sanayeh. President Bechara El Khoury, Prime Minister Riad El-Solh and Saeb Salam attended the opening ceremony. They were also all present at Al Riyadi's first basketball game against Turkish Galatasaray S.K. The club returned to its current location in Raouché facing the Bain Militaire in 1954.
The closed court, named in honour of former Prime Minister, Saeb Salam, was accomplished in 1991 during the term of Club President Hisham Jaroudi and with assistance from club President Tammam Salam (Prime Minister in office, since the 2015), and many Al Riyadi supporters from across Lebanon.
Al-Riyadi dominated the Lebanese Basketball Championship before the 1975 Civil War, and was in a fierce competition with Hekmeh after the resume of the league seasons from 1992 to 2004.
On May 1, 2005, coached by Fouad Abou Chakra and his assistant Tygran Gyokechian, Al Riyadi won the Lebanese Championship in the 2004–2005 season after eight years with no wins. The team broke a record by winning 25 times in 25 games, to become the first team in the recent Lebanese Basketball History to win the championship without any loss. In the final game, Al Riyadi won over Sagesse Club in Manara by 40 points (112–72), and ended the series a by clean sweep of (3–0). Al Riyadi was represented by Ismail Ahmad, Tony Madison, Ali Mahmoud, Joe Vogel, Ghaleb Reda, Mohamad Ibrahim, Ali Fakhreddine, Omar Turk, Richi Halleet, Mohamad Hantas, Robert Bou Dagher, Hussein Tawbi, Abdullah Hijazi, Mazen Mneimneh, and Hasan Lakkis. Few days after they were crowned champions of Lebanon for the season 2004–2005, Al Riyadi team headed to Dubai, UAE and participated in Hamdan Ben Rashed Tournament which was held in May 2005. Al Riyadi, once again undefeated, was crowned Champion of The Tournament after overcoming Saba from Iran (99–83). Tony Madison was nominated MVP and best scorer of the tournament, while Ismail Ahmad earned the best rebounder title.
The team continued its success in the 2004–2005 season, and on May 26, 2005, Al Riyadi won the Pan Arab Tournament cup over Fast Link from Jordan (87–82), in al Nasr Stadium in Dubai, UAE. It was the first time that Riyadi won the Arab championship. This tournament showed the first loss—after 66 straight wins—for Riyadi in more than 450 days, against the Fast Link in the second round. With that win, Riyadi would have finished the 2004–2005 season by winning six out of six tournaments: Damascus tournament, Hariri tournament, Rashed Ben Maktoum tournament, Lebanese Championship, Hamdan Ben Rashed tournament, and finally the Pan Arab tournament.
The team broke another Lebanese championship record by stretching its winning streak to 44 wins without any loss in almost two years, ever since the 2003–2004 season when Riyadi lost to Blue Stars on April 7, 2004. Riyadi's winning streak in the league ended on March 7, 2006 when the team lost to Sagesse for the first time after an 8–0 record against the archrivals in the past two years.
In 2006, Al Riyadi preserved the Lebanese Championship title for the 2005/2006 season with minor changes in the roster highlighted by the assistance of the new import Calvin Warner who temporarily replaced Captain Tony Madison in the semi-finals and finals. Al Riyadi won over Sagesse in the final 3–0 with the first game ending with 23 points difference, the second with 29 points difference, and the third with 22 points difference.
On April 22, 2006, for the first time in its history, the team won the Lebanese Cup after easily beating Sagesse (86–69) in the final which was held in the Sports City, to clinch the doublet of Lebanese Cups, followed by the Pan-Arab Cup which was held in Morocco.
In November 2006, right before the 2006–2007 Lebanese League kicked off, the FLBB requested from the Champion of Lebanon, Al Riyadi to participate in King Abdallah's Tournament in Jordan instead of the Lebanese National Team who at the time was not ready for such an intense competition. The FLBB thought that Riyadi players will preserve Lebanon's image and raise its name high among countries participating in the tournament including Jordan, Syria, Palestine, Kosovo, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt. Al Riyadi Club was up to the challenge and brought the cup back to Lebanon after beating the Egyptian National Team in the final game (70–68).
- Lebanese Basketball League (28, including titles before year 1975):
- 1949/50, 1950/51, 1951/52, 1952/53, 1953/54, 1955/56, 1956/57, 1957/58, 1958/59, 1959/60, 1967/68, 1970/71, 1972/73,1992-1993, 1994-1995, 1996-1997, 2004-2005, 2005-2006, 2006-2007, 2007-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2013-2014, 2014-2015, 2015-2016, 2016-2017, 2018-2019
- Lebanese Cup Winner (4):
- 2006, 2007, 2008, 2019
- 2011, 2017
- 1998, 2008, 2011, 2017
- 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010
|Al Riyadi Beirut roster|
Al Riyadi's Women Section
The Riyadi's Basketball team for women was formed in 1965, and competed against few Lebanese women's teams. However, Riyadi ladies team qualified for the first time in the club history to the final of the Lebanese league in 2006–2007 after their third consecutive win over Homenetmen in the final four. Riyadi was crowned Lebanese Cup 2006 Champion after defeating Antranik by five points with a final score of 61–56.
Riyadi's Emma Eskedjian dominated the glass grabbing 14 rebounds and managed to score 18 points; while Nour Chkeir lead the team in scoring with 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Talar Marcusian nailed four 3-pointers and the team's American Jessica Butler grabbed ten rebounds. As for Antranik, Nisrine Dandan was the best scorer of the game with 20 points while the team's import Shandra Brown scored ten points and grabbed seven rebounds.