Manama close in on league crown
TDT | Manama
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
Manama pulled off a stunning, come-frombehind 104-100 overtime victory over Muharraq last night to move one win away from securing back-to-back titles in the Zain Bahrain Basketball League.
Facing a double-digit deficit with less than two minutes to go in regulation, Manama went on a 12-1 run, capped by a driving Ali Hussain lay-up with 0.5 seconds remaining, to tie the game at 93- all and send it into the five-minute extra session.
There, they took care of businesses, converting five pressure-packed free-throws in the closing moments to help secure the 2-0 advantage in this thrilling best-of-five championship series.
The finals are now headed for a break to make way for Manama’s participation in the FIBA West Asia Super League (WASL) Final Eight in Dubai, taking place from Friday to June 17. Manama and Muharraq will resume their battles after that event.
It was an exciting clash between the two sides at a packed Khalifa Sports City Arena in Isa Town last night from the opening tip.
Muharraq came out of the gate with all guns firing and quickly took a 12-2 lead following a Dewayne Jackson three-pointer, but Manama gradually got into their groove and the score was deadlocked at 24-all at the end of the first.
In the second, Muharraq began to pull away and a Hussain Salman triple gave them a 52-41 advantage, but Travin Thibodeaux had a three-point play for Manama with four seconds to bring them to within 44-52 at the half.
In the third, Muharraq started strong and a Shabbaz Muhammad basket made it 58-44. But then Manama went on a scintillating 18-0 rally, sparked mostly by Thibodeaux, to give his team a 62-58 lead, and they eventually headed into the final canto up 68-64.
Salman then came alive for Muharraq in the final canto, helping them take a 92-81 advantage with two free-throws.
At this point, Thibodeaux had fouled out but Manama did not give up, and a furious late surge sparked by Hussain brothers Ali and Mustafa, culminating with Ali’s driving lay-up, levelled the proceedings at 93-apiece and sent the game into overtime.
There, a Muhammad floating jumper gave Muharraq a 100-99 lead with just over two minutes to go, but they would not score from there and Manama were able to convert their shots from the charity stripe to seal the hard-earned win.
Thibodeaux led Manama’s scorers with 26 points while grabbing 10 rebounds, while Mustafa Hussain added 18 off the bench.
Sir’Dominic Pointer had a fine all-around performance with 17 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, four steals and four blocks, while Ali Hussain chipped in with 16 and Mohammed Ameer had 13.
Muhammad paced Muharraq with 34 points while Hussain Salman had 25 off the bench.
Jackson finished with 24 as their only other player in double figures.
The remaining games in the championship series have yet to be scheduled by the Bahrain Basketball Association.
In the WASL Final Eight, Manama are in Group A of the competition along with Al Riyadi and Beirut First Club from Lebanon and Chennai Heats from India.
Group B features Kuwait SC of Kuwait, Shabab Al Ahli of the UAE, Shahrdary Gorgan from Iran and BC Astana from Kazakhstan.