RIFFA and Al Hala posted convincing victories last night to cruise into the second round of the Khalifa bin Salman Cup.
Riffa made easy work of Al Najma in a 107-76 rout, while Hala dominated against Samaheej for a 97-78 result. Both games were played at the Khalifa Sports City arena in Isa Town.
The two winners now meet in the next stage in a game that is scheduled to be held on Sunday.
Riffa got off to a strong start and never looked back in their big win. They raced out to a 33-15 lead at the end of the first quarter, which they extended to a comfortable 58-30 advantage at half-time. Riffa maintained their fine play in the third, at the end of which they enjoyed an 86-54 lead. That allowed them to cruise in the final canto with the win virtually sealed.
Riffa enjoyed leads as big as 38 in the contest. All 12 of their players were able to log in some minutes, and all managed to get into the scoresheet.
Power forward Subah Hussain had 19 points and eight rebounds to help lead them in the win. Verstaile forward Mohammed Buallay came off the bench to contribute 16 markers and seven assists.
American professional Shawne Williams and Bahraini guard Younes Kuwayed chipped in with 15 apiece. Williams also took down nine rebounds, while Kuwayed dished out eight assists.
For Najma, who never led in the game, US import Kevin Rogers paced them with 24 points, 14 rebounds and three steals. Skipper Fadalallah Abbas was the only other player in double-figures, finishing with 13.
Meanwhile, Hala had a similar outing against Samaheej, building a big lead early and gradually adding to it the rest of the way
Hala took a 33-16 lead at the end of the first quarter and maintained the gap at 51-34 at the interval.
Samaheej were able to outscore their opponents by three in the third period, but it had little effect on the outcome as Hala closed things out on a positive note.
Hala led by as many as 26 points in the second half.
All five of their starters enjoyed double-digit scoring performances. British-Jamaican professional Ryan Richards had 20 points, including four three-pointers, to lead the victors.
He also had 11 rebounds in the game. Ahmed Jamal added 17, while the trio of Hussain Salman, Hassan Gerashi and Nasser Al Mosawi all finished with 15 points each.
Hala’s starters were red hot from the perimeter, burying a total of 15 triples between them.
American Mark St Fort led Samaheej in the loss with 28 points and 25 rebounds. His monster effort, however, also included 10 turnovers. Bahraini skipper Hussain Busafwan chipped in with 19.
Following their Sunday fixture, the winner of Riffa’s game with Hala move on to face the winner of the Manama-Nuwaidrat match-up. That will be played tomorrow at 6pm, to be followed by a high-profile ecounter between Muharraq and Al Ahli at 7.45pm. Both games are also at Khalifa Sports City.