Manama held their nerves to snatch a tense 106-100 overtime victory over Al Ahli in a preliminary round game of the Zain Bahrain Basketball League at Zain Arena in Um Al Hassam last night.
During the five-minute extension, Ahli raised hopes of a dramatic win, but Manama managed to keep Ahli’s lead slim until they sneaked ahead 101-100 and Mozamel Ameer sunk a couple of free throws. More free throws followed and Ahli’s hopes were dashed in a matter of seconds.
Earlier, Ahli managed to keep pace with Manama after trailing by seven points in the opening session. They drew level 25-25 before Manama nosed ahead to lead by two points.
The second quarter continued to be intense with teams vying to seize the upper hand. After Ahli levelled scores 33-33, Hesham Sarhan’s free throws took them ahead 35-33. Manama were not far behind and a couple of free throws by Ahmed Salman helped them draw level 40-40. A few tense moments passed before Ahli edged ahead by a solitary point at half-time (43-42).
Ahli managed to stay ahead during the initial period of the third quarter, but Manama, led by Mohammed Aziz and Christopher McKnight, stole a march on their opponents to go ahead 64-61.
The final canto was even more intensely fought with Mile Ilic, Maitham Jameel and Sarhan providing Ahli the edge. Trailing 86-85, Manama staged a comeback through Mozamel’s free throws that took them ahead 87-86. Ahli’s belligerence continued as they fought back to even the score 90-90 at the end of full time, paving the way for a tense overtime.
Aziz scored 24 points for Manama which included three three-pointers. McKnight with 20 points and Ameer with 17 were the other major scorers for the winners.
Ahli were powered by Ilic, who scored 34 points, Jameel (22) and Sarhan (20).
Manama’s reign at the top continues with 22 points from 11 games while Ahli are third with 20 points, also from 11 games.
Earlier in the evening, Muharraq eased past Al Najma for a 117-91 win.
The only occasion Najma managed to level scores with Muharraq was in the opening quarter when they made it 20-20 through Ali Jaber’s three-pointer.
However, Kevin Murphy took Muharraq steadily ahead to take the first quarter 25-33. From then on Muharraq progressed rapidly and ended the first half with a 30-point lead (74-44).
“The big lead after the first half gave us the luxury of pulling out some of the top players and giving the younger ones an opportunity to display their skills,” Muharraq coach Ivan Jeremic told the GDN after the match.
The lead proved insurmountable and Muharraq’s march continued in the third quarter. They fell behind by 10 points in the final quarter but that only served to mitigate the enormity of Najma’s loss.
Murphy led Muharraq’s scoring with 32 points. He was supported by Ahmed Aldurazi with 20 points and Mohamed Nasser with 19.
Jaber was Najma’s top scorer with 25 points while Qassim Hassan and Ali Turabi contributed 15 each.
Muharraq rose to the second position after yesterday’s win with 20 points from 11 games. Najma are sixth with 17 points from 11 outings.