BAHRAIN suffered a heartbreaking 70-83 defeat to Saudi Arabia last night in the Fiba Asia Cup 2021 Western Region Pre-Qualifiers, being held at Zain Basketball Arena in Um Al Hassam.
The nationals had a horrendous fourth quarter in which they lost their lead and allowed their rivals to stretch their final winning margin.
With the result, the Bahrainis were dealt their first loss in three games and are virtually out of contention for first place to end the competition. That ranking has been virtually sealed by the Saudis, who have remained undefeated after three successive outings with one game to play against winless Bangladesh.
The Saudis are expected to take care of business against their Bangladeshi counterparts when they face off this evening at 5pm at the same venue in the first game of the event’s concluding day. That will be followed by Bahrain playing their final game against Palestine at 7pm.
The Palestinians were big winners against Sri Lanka in yesterday’s other game. They routed their opponents by 62 points, 112-50.
In Bahrain’s loss, the hosts came alive in the third quarter and turned a 37-44 deficit at half time to a 64-60 lead heading into the final canto. Bader Abdulla Malabes buried a two-point jump shot with half-a-minute left in the period to give them their slight edge.
In the fourth, however, Saudi took back control and were quickly in front, 65-64, on a Marzouq Almuwallad three-pointer. That was part of a 15-2 run in the first five minutes of the period when the visitors powered ahead 75-66 following a pair of Al Muwallad free-throws.
The Bahrainis never recovered, and they struggled to make shots the entire quarter, finishing it having scored just six points. The Saudis took full advantage and went ahead by as many as 14 en route to the final whistle.
Mohammed Kuwayed led Bahrain in the loss with 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Mohammed Ameer added 14 markers, while Bader Abdulla Malabes had 10.
Maytham Jameel contributed nine points, while Hussain Shaker and Hesham Sarhan had six apiece.
Almuwallad finished as the game’s top scorer with 26 points for Saudi. Ayoub Alhawsawi added 14, while Khalid Abdel Gabar had 11.
Meanwhile, Palestine were dominant against Sri Lanka the entire contest.
They built a 28-11 lead at the end of the first quarter and never wavered. Their 62-point winning margin was also their biggest lead of the night.
Sani Sakakini was once again their leading scorer. He almost had a triple-double with 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. Ahmed Haroon added 21 markers including an impressive six three-pointers, while Mark Anthony Hill scored 14 and dished out six assists.
Praneeth Udumalagala had 20 points to pace Sri Lanka in defeat.