*** ----> Manama stay alive, force decider | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Manama stay alive, force decider

TDT | Manama                                                

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com     

Defending champions Manama lived to fight another day as they sent their Golden Square semi-final series against Al Ahli to a winner-take-all third game in the 2022/2023 Zain Bahrain Basketball League.

Manama won game two of their match-up against their bitter rivals 95-85 last night at a packed Khalifa Sports City in Isa Town.

The victors did well to bounce back from their earlier setback in the series opener, which Ahli took 93-86.

The decisive rubber match between the two sides will be held on Thursday at the same venue.

The winner of this Golden Square head-to-head will take on Muharraq in the finals. Muharraq booked their return tickets to the championship round after taking their matchup against Al Ettihad in three games.

After splitting the first two contests, Muharraq finally broke through with a 106-93 triumph on Saturday.

Muharraq had also played in the finals last season, when they lost to Manama in three games.

In last night’s fixture, Manama raced out to a 28-21 lead at the end of the first quarter and then managed to extend their advantage to double digits, 56- 44, heading into the half.

Manama stepped things up after the break.

They took their biggest lead of the contest at 21, 84-63, following a pair of Mohammed Ameer free-throws, which was also the score heading into the final canto.

There, Ahli slowly chipped away at the deficit and almost made it interesting towards the game’s closing minutes.

With under two minutes to go, Hesham Sarhan buried a three-pointer to bring Ahli to within single digits, 85-93, but he appeared to roll his ankle as he came down from his shot attempt.

Ahli had a number of chances to cut the deficit further, but then a two-handed slam dunk by Travin Thibodeaux with less than a minute left virtually sealed the win after restoring Manama’s 10-point cushion and pegging the final score.

Thibodeaux finished as Manama’s leading scorer with 31 points while also taking down 13 rebounds.

Newly signed professional Sir’Dominic Pointer, who Manama picked up as a replacement for the injured Lamont Jones, chipped in with 20, while Ahmed Salman had 13 and Ameer 12.

For Ahli, Dakari Johnson scored 22 points while Taylor Rochestie had 20. Sarhan added 14 and Mohammed Qurban 12 in the loss.

Manama has already knocked Ahli out of this season’s Khalifa bin Salman Cup basketball tournament.

They will be facing Muharraq in the yet-to-be-scheduled final, and will be aiming for a double showdown with their bitter rivals in the league.