CHAMPIONS Manama flexed their muscles against arch-rivals Al Ahli last night in an 89-77 victory as part of Week 13 in the 2018/2019 Zain Bahrain Basketball League.
Manama were in control from the opening tip and showed why they are still the team to beat this season, claiming their 11th win in as many games and maintaining their status as the nation’s only unbeaten team.
Also coming away with a positive result yesterday were Al Najma, who edged out Sitra 113-109 in overtime. It was a high-scoring affair for both teams, who each had epic individual performances from their star players.
Do-it-all Bahraini forward Mohammed Buallay posted yet another triple-double for Najma, which helped overcome the 46-point outburst of Sitra’s Senegalese professional Mansour Kasse.
Both of last night’s contests were played at Zain Basketball Arena in Um Al Hassam.
In the match-up between two of Bahrain basketball’s most successful clubs, Manama lived up to their tag as favourites.
They took a comfortable 21-12 lead at the end of the first quarter, but they could not relax as Ahli gradually clawed their way back and were down 38-45 at the half. In the third period, Manama enjoyed double-digit leads but Ahli managed to stay within striking distance at 61-69 heading into the final canto. They could not make things close, however, as Manama had all the answers in the end to pull off the big win.
Skipper Mohammed Hussain buried a long three-pointer with just over a minute remaining to ice the game and peg the final score.
Manama enjoyed a balanced attack in the win, with five players scoring in double figures. Mohammed Ameer and Ahmed Abdulaziz both finished with 18 points, with Ameer taking down eight rebounds and Abdulaziz firing in four three-pointers. Maytham Jameel added 15, Hussain Shaker had 14 and Hussain had 12.
American professional Wayne Chism contributed just five points but he manned the paint well and had 14 boards.
US import Marcel Jones led Ahli with 23 points and 16 rebounds. Ali Aqeel added 12, six rebounds and five assists.
Manama went to the top of the standings in solo first place with the result, while Ahli suffered only their third loss to go with eight victories.
In Najma’s hard-earned win, Kasse made a lay-up with eight seconds to go in regulation to tie the proceedings at 94-apiece and send the game into the extra five minutes.
In overtime, Najma quickly took control and four pressure-packed free-throws from Mohammed Albosta in the final eight seconds helped them eke out the win.
Buallay had an impressive stat-line of 29 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists to lead Najma. American Kevin Rogers added 20 markers and 11 rebounds, while Fadlallah Abbas had 19 and Albosta 12.
Kasse had a monster 46-point, 21-rebound effort end in defeat. Mohayad Ameer added 29 points and 10 boards.
Najma improved their win-loss record to 6-5 while Sitra dropped to 3-8.