MANAMA turned what should have been a hotly contested game against arch-rivals Al Ahli into a 69-36 blowout victory last night to end Week 13 in the Zain Bahrain Basketball League.
Sweet-shooting guard Hassan Nowrooz spearheaded the defending champions with 25 points off the bench. He sparked a decisive run in the second quarter that turned a close-game into a dominating affair. Manama scored 25 points in the period and held Ahli to just six, giving them a 39-21 lead at the interval.
Manama continued to pile on the pressure in the second half, and at one point in the fourth quarter more than doubled the output of Ahli, 69-34, on one of Nowrooz’s five three-pointers.
Ahli were playing without influential court general Hussain Shaker, and his absence was felt especially in the final canto when his team scored just five points.
Nowrooz scored 16 of his total in the first half. Versatile forward Mohammed Kuwayed contributed 17 markers, including four triples, as Manama’s only other player in double figures. American professional Wayne Chism had an easy night’s work, finishing with eight points and 19 rebounds along with four blocked shots.
Hesham Sarhan top scored with 12 points for Ahli but they got very little else from the rest of the squad. Nigerian-British import Ndudi Ebi scored nine points and grabbed 19 rebounds for Ahli, who were dismal from the field shooting just 12-for-54 in the entire game.
Following the result, Manama claimed their 12th win in the league and they moved to solo first place with 24 points. Ahli, who were joint-leaders heading into last night’s tiff, suffered their second defeat and remain on 20 points in second on the table.
Meanwhile, Al Najma trounced Samaheej 113-58 in yesterday’s other game.
Najma came out of the gates rampant and took a commanding 32-8 lead at the end of the first quarter and never looked back. Najma enjoyed leads of up to 56 points, scored an outstanding 74 points in the paint and 60 on the fastbreak.
Qassim Hassan had a fine all-around effort of 28 points including four three-pointers, five rebounds, seven assists and seven steals.
Abbas Jawadi and Hassan Jaber added 19 apiece, while Mohammed Buallay contributed 11 and Mohammed Aziz 10. American professional Haminn Quaintance was not so much needed in the game, playing only 10 minutes and finishing with four points and six rebounds.
Hussain Busafwan and Ahmed Fateel each had 12 points to pace Samaheej in the losing cause.
Najma improved to a 7-5 win-loss record and boast 14 points in seventh place, while Samaheej suffered their 12th successive defeat and conclude the league’s first round as the only winless team.