Tue, 30 Aug 1994

Russians, Saudis meet in final of Independence Cup

JAKARTA (JP): Saudi Arabia, which narrowly overcame the United Arab Emirates 67-66 here yesterday, will face favorite Russia, lopsided winners earlier in the evening over the South Korean Army team 65-49 in the final of the fifth Independence Cup at Senayan indoor stadium today.

The Saudis played much shakier than they did on Friday when they ejected the Koreans, even trailing 35-28 at the end of last night's first half.

"We did not play up to our usual standard tonight," conceded Stephen Flemming, the Saudi coach who hails from the United States. "There was some luck on our side."

"Tomorrow we will face Russia, a very strong team, but right now I think we can beat anybody," he said.

"I do not know yet what I'm going to do tomorrow, I'll just enjoy the victory for now," he added.

Flemming's relief was in direct contrast to the reaction of the Emirates' assistant coach M. Alchehhi who tried to beat up C. Mercado, the Filipino referee, briefly after the final buzzer.

Showing a complete lack of sportsmanship Alchehhi screamed vulgarities at the referee who looked quite agitated himself.

"You killed the game and I'm going to kill you now," said Alchehhi among other things.

"Who do you think you are?", the referee yelled back at him before security guards came to separate both men.

The Emirates actually displayed a courageous and very organized game. Their bald star Hamdan Saeed shone brightly, penetrating with sneaky lay-ups and sinking three-pointers, right until he fouled out 35 seconds before the night was over.

Saeed was also aided by his teammates who managed to form tight defenses which frustrated the Saudis for most of the game. Flemming at one point in the first half even yelled "Sit down!" to M. Brouk Harbi who lost his cool at that time.

The game was tense well until the last seconds. The Saudis were leading 64-63 with 30 seconds left which lead to some fouls that evolved to a 67-63 about 12 seconds later. With less than one second left Abdul Lateef of the Emirates scored a trey which narrowed the Saudis' final margin of victory to 67-66.


Earlier in the evening and in contrast to the Arabs' close game, the favorite Russians finally flexed their muscles and sent the South Koreans down with a 65-49 victory.

The Russians - currently the world's number two basketball power after the recent world championships in Toronto - were consistent throughout, passing the ball smartly and penetrating ruthlessly. The Koreans soldiers, tenacious as always, put up a good fight and managed to keep the game somewhat close until about four seconds remained in the first half, as indicated in the score of 25-19.

The Russians, however, did not spare them anymore after that point and went on virtually unchallenged until the end.

All of these certainly promise an excellent and tense final between the Saudis and Russians.

Assuming that the Saudis regain their full fighting capacity, a Russian defeat, albeit a narrow one, should definitely not be ruled out.

The fight for third place between the Koreans and the Emirates, in the meantime, should not be missed either.

Seats for the final should be easily available because a mere 350 fans, mostly consisting of expatriate Koreans, turned up for the semifinals.(hdj)