Davon Jefferson starred for Al Ahli as his team comfortably beat Manama 85-70 to lift the Super Cup at the Zain Basketball Arena in Um Al Hassam last night.
The Super Cup is an annual fixture, played between the Zain Bahrain Basketball League champions and the winners of the Khalifa Bin Salman Cup. Manama won the league last season while Al Ahli clinched the season-ending Khalifa Bin Salman Cup.
6’8” power-forward Jefferson, an American globe-trotting player who was recruited by Al Ahli at the start of the season and is playing his first season of Bahraini domestic basketball, scored 35 points, the highest by any player in the match, and was easily the most impressive player on display.
Al Ahli were always in control of the game, after they took the lead halfway through the first quarter and never relinquished it.
By the time the fourth and last quarter began, they were leading 72-59 and Manama, spearheaded by their American NBA star Jordan Crawford – also playing in Bahrain for the first time – needed to produce something special in order to win.
Mohammed Ameer scored a two-pointer as soon as the quarter began to reduce the deficit to 11. But Ali Aqeel and Al Ahli captain Mohammed Qurban scored a two-pointer and a three-pointer, respectively, and, before long, Al Ahli’s lead had stretched to 18 points, at 79-61, with just six minutes left to play.
The athletic Ali Husain, then, scored a two-pointer to take Manama a little closer with the score reading 63-79 but Al Ahli’s Hesham Sarhan – who also had an excellent game, scoring 18 points – netted a two-pointer of his own immediately thereafter and his side were 18 ahead again, at 81-63 with less than five minutes left in the match.
Mohammed Ameer and Ahmed Hassan scored a two-pointer and three-pointer, respectively, in quick succession to take the score to 70-81 and raise Manama’s hopes briefly.
But there were only two minutes left in the game by this time and when Jefferson and Subah Husain scored a two-pointer each to leave the scoreboard reading 85-70 with barely 20 seconds left, the Manama players, led by new captain Hassan Nowrooz, demonstrated great sportsmanship by going up to their opponents and congratulating them.
Earlier, the initial few minutes of the first quarter appeared to indicate that the game would be a closely-fought one, with the score reading 7-7 and five minutes to go in the quarter. But Al Ahli, spurred on by Jefferson and the excellent Maitham Jameel, who also captains the national side, eventually ended the quarter leading 23-19.
Manama fought gamely to stay in the contest in the second quarter. But, Al Ahli’s lead continued to increase, courtesy of Jefferson scoring consistently, and the two teams headed into the change rooms at half-time, with Manama trailing by eight points, with the score 34-42.
If the league champions had any hopes of making a strong comeback in the third quarter, they were soon dashed as Al Ahli continued to extend their lead. When the quarter ended, Manama knew overhauling a 13-point deficit in the last quarter would be a difficult task. With Al Ahli in the kind of form they were displaying, it turned out to be an impossible one for Manama.
Meanwhile, in a gesture of respect, the game was dedicated to the memory of the late Shaikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Khalifa, one of the Bahrain Basketball Association’s past presidents.