BAHRAIN claimed a hard-earned 73-69 victory over the UAE last night to make a winning start to their campaign in the Fiba Asia Cup 2021 Pre-Qualifiers, being played in the kingdom at Zain Basketball Arena in Um Al Hassam.
Hassan Nowrooz sparked a late fourth-quarter rally during which he scored 10 points including back-to-back three-pointers to give the hosts the lead for good at 65-63. They did well to hold on to their advantage from there, foiling any comeback attempts from the Emiratis.
Bahrain needed to fight back from six points down in the final period before taking control of the contest. They started the game off strong and led 24-14 at the end of the first quarter but then cooled off in the second where they scored just 11 points. The UAE took advantage and went into the half with a slim 37-35 lead, and continued to stay in front after the third quarter at 57-52. But that paved the way for the late-game heroics for Bahrain.
Athletic forward Mohammed Kuwayed also made a key contribution in the pay-off period, firing in a basket from beyond the arc before Nowrooz hit his two in a row.
Kuwayed finished as the top scorer for Bahrain with 17 points, which included five three-pointers. Nowrooz finished with 10 points, as did court general Hussain Shaker.
Guard Ahmed Hassan and big man Ali Shukrallah chipped in with seven points each in the win, while Mohammed Ameer provided some energy off the bench with six points and six rebounds.
Qais Alshehabi spearheaded the UAE with 29 points and nine rebounds in a losing effort.
In yesterday’s other game, Saudi Arabia manhandled Oman 100-45.
The Saudis raced out to 10-0 lead were 19-2 ahead midway through the first quarter. They never looked back the rest of the way and led by as many as a massive 56 points.
Guard Marzouq Almuwallad had a game-high 29 points while forward Mohammed Alsuwallem had 17 points and eight rebounds. Big man Mohammed Al Marwani contributed 12 points while forward Nassir Abojalas had 10 for Saudi.
Forward Mohamed Al Asmi paced Oman with just 10 points. He was their only player in double figures.
Today is a rest day. Tomorrow, the UAE and Oman face off in the early fixture at 5pm followed by Bahrain and Saudi clashing at 7pm. The final day on Monday will see Saudi and the UAE face off in the evening’s first game followed by Bahrain taking on Oman.
The qualifiers in Bahrain will be followed by a second phase which will be held in Dubai in June. These qualifiers are a part of the new Fiba Competition System and Calendar. The pre-qualifiers will determine which teams will join the main qualification process, beginning in November next year, for the Fiba Asia Cup 2021.