*** ----> Manama triumph in finals opener | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Manama triumph in finals opener

TDT | Manama                                                

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com     

Manama drew first blood last night in their bestof-five championship series against Muharraq in the 2022/2023 Zain Bahrain Basketball League.

The defending champions and recently crowned winners of the Khalifa bin Salman Cup took an exciting game one, 93-85, at a packed Khalifa Sports City Arena in Isa Town.

Manama led for the entire contest but Muharraq got to within three points late in the fourth quarter.

But the victors made the key baskets down the stretch, as they took the early advantage in the title battle.

Bahrain Olympic Committee vice-president His Highness Shaikh Isa bin Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa attended last night’s match.

Manama will now look to take a stranglehold of their matchup in game two on Monday, scheduled for a 7pm tip-off at the same venue.

The rest of the series schedule has yet to be announced by the Bahrain Basketball Association.

Last night’s game saw both teams meet once again just a few days removed from locking horns for the right to lift the Khalifa bin Salman Cup.

Manama came out of the gate strong and took a 28-18 lead at the end of the first quarter.

They then took their biggest advantage at that point of 14, with an Ali Hussain lay-up that made it 38-24 early in the second.

But Muharraq roared back and were able to cut the deficit to 43-48 at the break.

In the third, Manama stayed in control although Muharraq were able to get within a single possession on multiple occasions. Manama took a 69-62 advantage into the final canto, where they built another double-digit gap.

Muharraq kept fighting and back-to-back Dewayne Jackson triples brought them to within 78-81.

Travin Thibodeaux replied with a hook shot plus two free-throws from Mohammed Ameer and another Thibodeaux basket gave Manama an 87-78 lead, virtually icing the game. Muharraq got no closer than six points the rest of the way.

Thibodeaux spearheaded Manama with 21 points, while Mustafa Hussain came off the bench to contribute 18, including two three-pointers.

Sir’Dominic Pointer had a near triple-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, while Ameer chipped in with 10 points and five steals.

Jackson had 30 points and eight assists to pace Muharraq while Shabazz Muhammad had a monster effort of 28 points and 16 rebounds in his first game with the team.

Skipper Bader Abdulla Malabes had five points in the loss.

This year’s finals series is a repeat of last season’s title tussle. Manama are looking for a repeat championship.

Muharraq, on the other hand, are hoping to avenge their loss.

Manama hold the record for most league titles in the Bahrain league, having claimed the coveted championship 23 times in the past, including last season’s crown.

Muharraq have won the title thrice in the past, in the 2007/2008 season, as well as in 2011/2012 and 2018/2019.