Ghassan Nehme is a hot prospect in Lebanese basketball, aged 22 and playing for one of the country’s top teams, Club Sagesse.
He was born and raised in America, growing up in Colorado where he started playing in the community YMCA leagues at a very young age.
Nehme told me: “My father played for Champville [a private Christian college in Lebanon] under coach Fouad Abou Charka. I’ve always had a ball in my hand and wanted to be like my dad. He’s my idol and who I thrive to learn from on and off the court.”
The young star has the opportunity to follow in his father’s footsteps.
“After going through a tough second year of college with injuries I felt like it was time to move on and try something new.
“My dream was to be playing where my family is from and represent the Lebanese blood in me. It’s a true blessing to get to play over in Lebanon.”
The season so far
Nehme is currently in his first year at Beirut-based Club Sagesse, where he is having a very good season to date.
His stand-out performance was against Homenetmen Beirut. Coming on for Dwayne Jackson, he scored 31 points in 15 minutes, hitting 9 of 11 from the three-point line, a new record in Lebanese basketball.
Even though Sagesse went on to lose the 105-97, Nehme was highly praised after the game, and even got labelled the ‘Steph Curry of Lebanese basketball’.
Playing in basketball-mad Lebanon for a major team such as Sagesse, who have won nine national titles, piles a great responsibility on to every player’s shoulders.
So for a 22-year-old to come on, when the team is low on morale and losing by a big margin, and perform so well just shows you that he is a top player who has great ability and character.
Asked about the support of Sagesse, Nehme said: “Playing for Hekmeh [as the team is also known] is the best experience I’ve had playing basketball.
“On and off the court the fans are amazing, and you’re treated like a professional. Nothing compares to Hekmeh fans, and how passionate they are and how much they influence our play. I’m very fortunate to experience such amazing fans.”
Nehme has to put in more great displays like he did against Homenetmen, as Club Sagesse will need him to perform at his best if they want to make it to the finals of the Lebanese Basketball Championships.
Club Sagesse’s next game is against their fierce rivals Al Riyadi, which always is a thrilling match-up, on March 6th.
As well as helping Club Sagesse to glory, Nehme also has ambitions to break into the Lebanese national team, which is gunning for a spot at the 2019 World Cup in China.
Lebanon are just through to the next round of qualifiers, and Nehme knows that consistent good displays at club level will help him to catch the eye of Lebanon’s new head coach Patrick Saba.
But international success can’t come before domestic achievement, and Nehme has one overriding aim as a Club Sagesse player. “I wish to achieve winning the Lebanese League Championship during my career,” he said emphatically.
Ghassan Nehme is on Twitter @gnehme23