*** ----> Muharraq through to FIBA WASL Gulf zone semis | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Muharraq through to FIBA WASL Gulf zone semis

TDT | Manama                                                      

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Bahrain’s Muharraq Club barged through to the Gulf sub-zone semi-finals of the 2023/2024 FIBA West Asia Super League (WASL).

Muharraq secured their berth following a resounding 89-82 victory over Shabab Al Ahli Dubai of the UAE in the third and decisive game of their best-ofthree play-off, held at Zain Basketball Arena in Um Al Hassam.

The stage is now set for an all-Bahraini final-four matchup, as Muharraq will next take on defending FIBA WASL champions Manama, also in a best-ofthree clash.

Game one is scheduled for March 26, to be followed by game two on April 3. Game three, if needed, will be on April 16.

After falling behind 65-66 early in the fourth quarter, Muharraq came alive and an Ali Jaffar basket gave them the lead for good, while sparking a 7-0 run that put the Bahrainis in control.

Shabab Al Ahli tried to stay within striking distance but a Bader Abdulla Malabes three-pointer powered Muharraq 80-72 ahead with under five minutes to play, and then freethrows from Jaffar and Ricky Ledo free-throws gave them a double-digit lead, 83-72.

The Emiratis never recovered and Muharraq cruised to the final buzzer.

“It was all about our defense,” said Muharraq head coach Saleh Al Haddad. “I told the guys especially at the start of the fourth quarter that it’s gonna be your call right now, it’s how far you’re going to put effort on defense so we’re gonna get closer to the win.

“That reflected on the court and I believe that the secret for tonight was good defense.”

Looking towards the semis against Manama, Malabes said: “The semis, we’ll play against our rivals in the local league, Manama.

It will be a tough series, but we will prepare for it.

Hopefully, we will give them a good fight.” Ledo and Malabes finished as Muharraq’s top scorers against Shabab Al Ahli, posting 31 and 21 points, respectively, while splitting eight triples between them. Ledo also took down 13 rebounds.

Tyler Wilkerson was their other player with a double-double, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 boards.

Nicolas Minnerath had 18 to pace Shabab Al Ahli, while Chavaughn Lewis and Mohammed Abdulla Masood Juma finished with 15 each.