CELEBRATIONS quickly turned into heartbreak last night as Manama were stunned 86-89 by UAE’s Al Ahli, ending the home side’s title bid in the 37th GCC Clubs Basketball Championship at the packed Zain Basketball Arena in Um Al Hassam.
Leading 86-81 with under a minute remaining in the extra session, Manama appeared to be heading to the final in front of their appreciative home crowd.
But things quickly turned upside down after Ahli’s Mitchell Watt was fouled taking a three-pointer with 42 seconds to play.
The towering American calmly sank each charity shot to bring his team to within two points, 84-86. But then a crucial turnover by Manama’s Mohammed Hussain allowed Ahli’s Talal Alnuaimi to race down the court for an uncontested lay-up to equal the scores at 86-apiece.
Five-year NBA veteran Sam Young then came up big for Ahli. On the defensive end, Young made an emphatic block on Manama’s Kadeem Coleby with 14 seconds left, and then followed that up on the ensuing possession with the go-ahead three-pointer with just over one second remaining on the clock.
Young’s heroics made it eight straight points in just over 40 seconds for Ahli, leaving Manama shocked into silence.
After calling a timeout, the hosts still had one more chance to tie the game before the final buzzer. But Mohammed Hussain’s desperate heave barely made it to the basket.
Earlier, Manama were on a high when Georgian import Nikoloz Tskitishvili sank a three-pointer that beat the shot-clock and send the game into overtime tied at 74-each.
The Bahrainis were then the aggressors in overtime, and with an Ahmed Abzulaziz three-pointer enjoyed an 86-81 advantage. Unfortunately, that only set the stage for the end-game drama.
Young finished the game with 31 points including three triples, seven rebounds and six assists. Qais Alshehabi chipped in with 21 points while Matt, who was saddled with foul trouble for much of the contest, finished the game with 11 points and 14 boards.
Coleby had a monster effort for Manama, scoring 24 points on an efficient 11-for-13 shooting. He also grabbed 18 rebounds and blocked three shots. Mohammed Hussain finished with 20, including burying four three-pointers.
Ahli are now in an all-UAE final when they take on Al Shabab at 6pm today.
Shabab defeated Al Rayyan of Qatar 104-95 to book their slot in the championship game.
Tickets are available at the gate. Manama clash with Rayyan for third place at 4pm.
In Shabab’s game yesterday, American professional Tyler Wilkerson was on fire, pouring in 46 points including five three-pointers and an overall shooting clip of 17-for-26 while taking down 14 rebounds. Rashed Alzaabi added 25 points.
Mohamed Harat paced Rayyan with 33 points and 17 rebounds.