ELATION turned to deflation for the Bahrain national basketball team as they bowed out of the GCC Championship last night with their third dismaying defeat following two dramatic victories in the first two matches in Kuwait City, reports Vijay Mruthyunjaya.
It was a must-win match as Bahrain, who were third at the end of the group stage with two win and two loses, clashed with second-placed Saudi Arabia.
But two defeats in the previous two matches seemed to have had very negative impact on the Bahraini players as they went down without a fight 66-85, unlike in the group stage clash were the Reds fought on all cylinders right till the end before going down to the same team.
In today’s final at 7pm, Saudi Arabia clash with hosts Kuwait, who beat UAE 74-65. In the match to decide third place at 5pm, Bahrain take on the UAE. The fifth team in the fray Qatar bowed out without a victory.
It has been a roller-coaster ride for Bahrain but last night the nationals simply seemed to have run out of ammunition.
Two emphatic victories in the first two matches against the UAE and Qatar seemed to have boosted the Bahrainis confidence.
But the defeat to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday in a see-saw battle, which saw the scores level on 11 occasions and the lead changing hands more than 20 times, and a setback against Kuwait in the last group stage on Thursday seemed to have turned delight into dismay.
And that dismay was evident all over as Bahrain went down to Saudi Arabia in a do-or-die clash last night.
Bahrain, however, began well winning the first quarter 21-15, but once Saudi Arabia found their range they were almost ruthless as they won the second and third with increasing confidence and comfort - 23-17, 24-17 - going into the final canto with a comfortable seven point lead 62-55.
That lead proved decisive in the ultimate analysis as the Saudis used it as a cushion and kept piling on the pressure on Bahrain.
Bahrain just had no answer to Saudi Arabia’s onslaught and were virtually outplayed in the final quarter, losing it 11-23 and with it the match and a place in the final which looked almost certain after the first two victories.
Chester Jarell Giles was once again the motor behind Bahrain moves, top scoring with 19 points, while Ahmed Ismaeel (11), Muzamil Hamoda (10) and Hesham Sarhan (10) were the only others to get into double figures.
For Saudi Arabia, Mathna Almarwani top scored with 19 points while Mohammed Alsuwailem and Fahad Belal (16 each) lend him admirable support.
Khalid Abdel Gabar was another Saudi player to get into double figures.