BAHRAIN’S Al Ahli Club eked out a come-from-behind 93-84 victory over Saudi Arabia’s Al Ittihad last night in the 37th GCC Clubs Basketball Championship.
Hussain Shaker made a handful of decisive plays down the stretch to help the home side stay undefeated after two games in the group stages of the competition, which is being played at Zain Arena in Um Al Hassam.
Shaker buried back-to-back three-pointers with just over two minutes to play to break an 82-all deadlock and put Ahli ahead for good. The Bahrain national team guard then fed Slovenian professional Primoz Brezec for an easy lay-up that made it 90-84 in the dying seconds, before Brezec fired in an uncontested triple right before the buzzer to peg the final score.
Brezec finished with a game-high 23 points while also taking down 15 rebounds.
American teammate Orien Greene also played a key role in the victory. He put in an all-around effort of 21 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Sayed Kadhem Majed chipped in with 20 markers including four three-pointers, while Shaker ended the game with 14 including three from beyond the arc.
The win was the second in a row for Ahli as they remained in contention for first place in their division heading into the second round.
The Saudis suffered their second straight loss and are now in the bottom half of their group.
Also in group ‘B’, defending champions Al Ahli of the UAE overwhelmed Al Sadd of Qatar 96-70.
The Emiratis led from the very beginning and took a commanding 47-25 advantage into the interval. They cruised the rest of the way, stretching their lead to more than 30 points multiple times in the second half.
Ahli enjoyed their second successive win to go top of the division while Sadd suffered their second defeat.
American Sam Young top scored for Ahli with 28 points and he also grabbed 11 rebounds. He led five players in double-figures. Qais Alshehabi had an impressive 19-point, 13-rebound effort to go along with four steals, while Mohammed Alajmani contributed 15 points.
Talal Alnuaimi chipped in with 11 off the bench while Mitchell Watt, Ahli’s other import from the US, finished with 10 markers for the victors.
Six-foot, 11-inch Greek centre Stavros Toutziarakis led Sadd with 30 points and 18 rebounds. American Kendrick Brown contributed 21. Both players played the full 40 minutes in the contest for the undermanned Qataris, who fielded just six players the entire game.
In yesterday’s other game, Al Shabab of the UAE easily disposed of Al Rayyan of Qatar 105-81.
Shabab raced out to an early lead and never wavered.
Sammy Monroe III led Al Shabab with 34 points. He had a near triple double with seven rebounds and nine assists. Fellow-American Tyler Wilkerson added 13 markers. Hussain Ahmed had 12, all of which came from three-point range.
Today is a rest day in the championship. Games continue tomorrow.