CHAMPIONS Manama showed why they are still the team to beat this season in the Zain Bahrain Basketball League after defeating bitter rivals Muharraq 89-81 last night at Zain Basketball Arena in Um Al Hassam.
It was the lone game yesterday and a highly anticipated match-up between the two sides, both of whom headed into the contest with unbeaten records.
Muharraq started the evening the aggressors, but after the hype settled, Manama got into their groove and took full control. Muharraq tried valiantly to fight back and make it close towards the end, but Manama did well to stave off any late surges and come away with their ninth win in as many games. Muharraq suffered their first loss in 10 games.
Manama spoiled the return to the court of Muharraq’s American professional CJ Giles, who was an instrumental part of their success in recent years.
Giles’s Manama counterpart, Wayne Chism, led Manama with 29 points, including four three-pointers, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots. Maytham Jameel added 18, six rebounds and four assists, while Mohammed Ameer had 16 points and Hussain Shaker 14.
Ahmed Hassan Aldurazi led all scorers with 30 for Muharraq in the loss. Giles added 19 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks, while Mohammed Juma’a scored 17 and Bader Abdulla Malabes 10.
Muharraq came bursting out of the gate and quickly took a 14-5 lead early in the first quarter following a Giles layup. Despite their hot start, they only managed a 20-15 lead at the end of the period.
In the second, Manama clawed their way back and a Hussain shaker triple on their very first possession brought them to within two points. They eventually took the lead at 25-24 on an Ameer dunk and they rode their momentum to the half-time break when they enjoyed a 41-37 lead.
It was a heated contest from the start with neither team giving in to their opponents.
Muharraq kept things close early in the third quarter and got to within 51-54 following a basket by court general Aldurazi. But Manama replied with a game-changing 10-2 run to end the period, capped by a Chism free-throw, to give Manama a 64-53 advantage heading into the final canto.
The victors stayed in control in the fourth, going up by as many as 13, 77-64, with a Shaker three-pointer. It was also their biggest lead of the night. Muharraq got no closer than seven points the rest of the way.
Both teams faced off last night before taking part in the 9th Bahrain-Philippines Goodwill Basketball Games, happening tomorrow and Friday at the same venue. In the event’s feature contests, Manama play the visiting Rain or Shine Elasto Painters tomorrow night, followed on Friday night by the Elasto Painters taking on Muharraq. Both games are scheduled for a 7.30pm tip-off.