BAHRAIN outclassed Saudi Arabia 75-68 last night to register a winning start to their campaign in the 23rd Arab Men’s Basketball Championship in Cairo.
Naturalised big man Wayne Chism and talented young guard Mustafa Hussain both came up with big baskets down the stretch to help the Bahrainis come away with the win.
With the nationals leading 64-63 and with only five minutes to go in the contest, Hussain and Chism combined to score the next 11 points to seal the game.
Hussain scored on a fast-break to make it 66-63, and then Chism had an and-one to extend their advantage to six. The six-foot, nine-inch centre then fired in a three-pointer for a crucial 72-63 cushion.
Saudi’s Khalid Abdel Gabar buried a three-pointer of his own on the other end, but Hussain replied with a baseline triple, supplying the final dagger that put the game out of reach from their rivals. Saudi scored once more prior to the final whistle, but the basket did not affect the final result.
Chism led Bahrain’s scorers with 19 points. Hussain came off the bench to contribute 15, while point guard Ahmed Hassan had 12.
Hussain injected life into a listless Bahrain team that started the game.
The Saudis quickly built a 15-7 lead early on, which they turned to a 24-15 advantage at the end of the first quarter. But Hussain came on in the second period and immediately made an impact with 10 points, helping the Bahrainis move ahead 40-34 at the half.
Bahrain continued their fine play in the third period where they enjoyed a 47-36 advantage midway through, but in the final canto Saudi fought back and made things interesting after tying the game at 61-apiece with six minutes left.
Court general Ahmed Abdulaziz then buried a three-pointer for a 64-61 edge, and Abdel Gabar scored for Saudi to make it 64-63 and pave the way for the end-game heroics from Bahrain’s Hussain and Chism.
Abdulaziz finished the game with eight points, while also contributing for Bahrain in the win were Ali Shukrallah and Mohammed Ameer, who both had six. Mohammed Kuwayed chipped in with five points, while Maytham Jameel and Mohamed Buallay each had two to round out Bahrain’s scorers.
Abdel Gabar paced Saudi with 19 markers in the loss.
Bahrain have a rest day today but then take on hosts Egypt in their next game tomorrow. Saudi, meanwhile, will be looking to make up for today’s defeat today when they face Algeria this evening at 6pm, Bahrain time.
The Algerians defeated the UAE 86-69 yesterday’s other game to bounce back from their loss to Egypt on opening night.
Egypt and the UAE go head to head in tonight’s other game at 8pm, Bahrain time.