Muharraq fell back on the wizardry of Kevin Murphy as they overcame some tense moments to fend off Riffa 81-72 in a preliminary game of the Zain Bahrain Basketball League last night.
Murphy, spurred on by a massive crowd of vociferous supporters at the Zain Arena in Um Al Hassam, scored almost half of his team’s total to take them past a spirited Riffa who made sure that there was never a dull moment in the game.
Murphy’s score of 39 included six three-pointers. Mohammed Buallay contributed 14 points, including four three-pointers.
The opening quarter was an indicator of what was to unfold later in the game. Muharraq were just a point ahead at the end of the quarter (18-17) but they went on to grab an eight point lead and stayed ahead 39-30 at half-time.
The second half witnessed some anxious moments as Riffa made a stirring comeback, lunging forward briefly in the third quarter before a couple of three-pointers brought Muharraq back into the game.
The fourth quarter too saw Riffa closing in on their opponents and came as close as 70-71. However, another three-pointer, this time by Bader Abdulla, came to Muharraq’s aid and put paid to Riffa’s belligerence.
“We couldn’t play well as a team,” admitted Muharraq coach Ivan Jeremic.
“Individual performances helped us,” added the Serbian.
“In a basketball game there will be ups and downs. However, we were in the lead most of the time.”
Muharraq have now moved to the second spot in the standings with 17 points from nine games. Riffa are fourth with 17 points from 10 games.
Milos Macura and Hussain Taqi powered Sitra to an 86-77 win over Al Ettihad earlier in the evening.
The duo combined to score 51 points for Sitra, who registered their fourth victory in the preliminary stage.
A change in preparation and strategy, according to coach Ali Kawaid, has started paying dividends.
“We are in search of a spot in the top six which will take us to the next stage. Bringing in new players like Macura and Isa Ebrahim has been part of our strategy and it is bound to pay off,” said Kawaid, a former national team and Sitra player.
A six point advantage in the first quarter (28-22) buttressed Sitra throughout the game as the succeeding quarters were close affairs.
They inched ahead 21-19 in the second quarter to lead by eight points at half-time.
The second half saw a determined Ettihad battling to take the upper hand. They fell behind by just a point in the third quarter (21-20) and hung on to make it 15-15 in the final canto.
Macura scored 29 points and Taqi 22, both with three three-pointers each.
Ali Ghadeer was the top scorer for Ettihad with 21 points. He was supported by Hassan Fahad and Ali Helal who chipped in with 15 and 12.
Al Ahli v Isa Town (6pm)
Nuwaidrat v Al Najma (7.45pm)