*** ----> Muharraq claim first WASL win | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Muharraq claim first WASL win

TDT | Manama                                                   

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Bahrain’s Muharraq Club claimed their first victory last night in the 2023/2024 FIBA West Asia Super League (WASL). Muharraq outclassed a battling Al Ahli of Saudi Arabia 94- 80 at Zain Basketball Arena in Um Al Hassam.

The Bahrainis used a strong final quarter where they outscored their opponents 22- 8, which included a furious game-ending surge, to come away with the win. The result followed Muharraq’s 92-108 loss to Kuwait Sporting Club of Kuwait in their opening game played earlier this month.

They are making their WASL debut this season and are joining fellow-Bahraini club and WASL defending champions Manama in the WASL Gulf sub-zone.

Muharraq are in Group A for the Gulf ’s preliminary round along with Ahli, Kuwait and Al Rayyan of Qatar. Manama are in Group B with Kazma of Kuwait, Shabab Al Ahli of the UAE and Al Shamal of Qatar. Muharraq are back in action against Rayyan on 12 December in Doha, and then face Kuwait in Kuwait City on 8 January next year.

Their penultimate assignment of this stage will be on 30 January against Ahli in Jeddah, and then they wrap things up against Rayyan back at home in Bahrain.

In last night’s triumph, Muharraq took a slim 24-23 lead at the end of the first quarter but Ahli’s Keith Hollis Thompson II scored on a jumper with 38 seconds left in the second to go up 45-43 at the half.

The contest remained close in the third and an Ali Jaffar three-pointer off a Hussain Salman assist tied the proceedings once more at 72-all with the last canto left to play.

There, after conceding the period’s first basket, Muharraq went on a game-changing 8-0 run, sparked by American Tyler Wilkerson and capped by Bader Abdulla Malabes with a lay-up.

Ahli fought back to within three, 77-80, but then Muharraq closed the game out with a resounding 14-3 spurt for the all-important victory.

Malabes finished with a team-high 22 points, including four three-pointers, to go with six assists, while Wilkerson chipped in with 21 points and 14 rebounds. Mohammed Juma’a added 18 while Mohammed Hussain scored 17 for the Bahrainis.

For Ahli, Devin Maurice Ebanks finished with 21 points as their leading scorer, while Marzouq Almuwallad had 17.

It was the second straight loss for the Saudis in Group A.

The three best teams at the end of the WASL Gulf sub-zone and the WASL  West Asia subzone leagues earn their tickets to this season’s WASL Final Eight.

Joining the six will be the champion teams from South Asia and Central Asia, and they will all vie for the right to become cage kings of the region.

Prior to the Final Eight, each sub-zone league features two groups of four teams, with the top seed by the end of the round-robin phase directly qualifying to the best-of-three WASL semi-finals.