AL AHLI defeated Muharraq 78-62 last night to force a winner-take-all third game in their best-of-three Golden Square semi-final series in the Zain Bahrain Basketball League.
Both teams face off again on Sunday for the right to march on to the championship series.
There, the winners will face defending champions Manama, who punched their tickets to the championship round after ousting Riffa 95-77 to sweep their final four match-up in two games.
Both semi-final games were played yesterday at the Khalifa Sports City arena in Isa Town.
In Ahli’s win, big man Loren Woods led a balanced attack with a monster effort of 19 points and 22 rebounds. Sharp-shooting guard Hesham Sarhan chipped in with 16 markers and seven rebounds, while veteran wing Mohammed Hassan added 11.
For Muharraq, American professional Arnett Moultrie had 22 points to pace his team in the loss. He also had 16 rebounds and three steals.
Ali Abbas was their only other player in double-figures with 15. Their other top names struggled, including Bader Abdulla Malabes who was just one-for-two from the field with five points and Ali Shukrallah who had seven.
Muharraq were the aggressors early on in the game and had a 17-12 advantage at the end of the first quarter. But Ahli took control in the second, outscoring Muharraq 27-16 to take a 39-33 lead into the half.
Things remained close until the fourth and final frame when they finally closed the game out with a 21-9 quarter to live to play another day.
In the other semi-final, US import Wayne Chism and national team talent Hassan Nowrooz combined for 47 points to lead Manama into the finals series.
Chism was the top scorer with 25 points while also taking down 18 boards. Nowrooz had 22 points including four three-pointers.
Mohammed Kuwayed and Mohammed Hussain each had 10 markers. Kuwayed added an impressive eight assists.
Marcel Jones had 21 points, 14 rebounds and five assists to lead Riffa. Sayed Saleh Mahdi chipped in with 14 off the bench, while Abdulrahman Ghali and Ali Asghar had 11. Asghar also had 13 rebounds.
Manama were in the lead the entire game and were in control throughout.