LAU’s Basketball team take the trophy home
LAU Byblos’ basketball team wins UniLeague championship, securing their legacy as the strongest most successful university team in Lebanon.
The LAU Captains, the university’s Byblos campus basketball varsity team, won the Lebanese Basketball UniLeague Championship last weekend, making it their sixth win, a record in the tournament’s 12-year history.
“We have won every championship since 2011, except for last year’s, so this time, Lebanon’s sports media said we were taking the trophy home,” declared the team’s coach Joe Moujaes, who became head coach of the Lebanese national team last January. The Captains had lost to USEK in last year’s final game. Last weekend they played them again, taking the trophy with a score of 95-82.
Moujaes, director of athletics at LAU Byblos, puts the team’s success down to a revamp of the athletics program at the university that was initiated ten years ago. “We decided to focus on team building and not recruitment of superstar athletes. It’s always the team that wins and our players understand that and are very supportive of each other.”
Four of the team’s members are graduating this year, but Moujaes is not concerned, as they have been training new players for both the varsity and junior varsity teams. Among those graduating is civil engineering student Karam Mechref, who was named the team’s ‘most valuable player’ for the tournament.
“It’s always an honor to be named most valuable player, and each time it boosts my profile across the university league,” said Mechref, who also plays for Homenetmen, a national division one team coached by Moujaes.
Whether Mechref is named most valuable player for the season, as he has been in previous years, will be announced at the athlete’s dinner later this month, but either way he intends to actively pursue a career in basketball. “I chose to study at LAU because of its successful basketball team, and now that I’m graduating I’m going to see if I can make a career out of basketball.”
The most valuable player, explains Moujaes, is not always the one who scores the most. “It’s truly about team work, about motivating the team to work together and play strategically,” says the coach.
Elie Chamoun, also a civil engineering student, was this game’s highest scorer. “This is my third win with the university, and a particularly emotional one as some of the players are graduating this year, so we wanted this win for them,” said Chamoun, beaming with pride. “Six wins is a record. We’re building a dynasty here at LAU.”