Mustafa Husain and Sir’Dominic Pointer helped defending champions Manama completely outclass Kuwait’s Kazma Club, 84-76, in their opening game of the 2023-24 West Asia Super League (WASL) – Gulf Region at the Khalifa Sports City Arena last night.
Husain, who scored 29 points to go along with three rebounds and two assists, and Pointer, who contributed 20 points as well as eight rebounds and six assists, were in their element as Manama, who had led, 62-54, when the fourth and last quarter started, ensured that they began the second WASL season with a win.
Pointer was the first to score in the final ten minutes, sinking a two-point jump shot with ease before following it up with an immaculate dunk to push Manama’s lead to 12 points, at 66-54.
A layup by Kazma’s Yousiff Borhamah reduced their deficit by two but Manama’s Ahmed Haji’s three-point jump shot pushed the Bahraini club’s lead up to 13, just seconds later, with the scoreboard reading 69-56.
The fourth quarter was now three minutes old and Kazma were under pressure, both by their opponents and an arena packed by the Manama faithful, who were making their presence felt in no uncertain terms.
Kazma’s two-metre-tall Clint Chapman then made a layup but Husain replied almost immediately with a perfect, three-point jump shot and Manama were now ahead, 72-58, with just under six minutes left.
A minute later, Kazma’s Travis Leslie gave them hope with a layup but Pointer retaliated with a layup of his own to put Manama ahead, 74-60.
Chapman then scored a fade-away jump shot and Husain replied with a superb turnaround jump shot with the scoreboard now showing Manama leading, 76-62, with just under five minutes left.
Abdulaziz Fadhel lifted Kazma spirits just then with a three-point jump shot and Leslie sank two free throws to reduce Manama’s lead to nine, at 76-67.
But there were only four minutes left in the game and Kazma needed a couple of their players to produce something spectacular if they were going to salvage it.
Instead, it was Husain who produced a brilliant, three-point jump shot, and when Leslie replied with a layup, followed it up by acing a free throw.
Manama now led 80-69, with slightly more than two minutes left but Leslie made another layup almost immediately and the Bahraini club was now just nine points in front, at 80-71.
The home side’s Travin Thibodeaux, who hadn’t appeared to be at his best throughout the encounter, finally made a definitive impression with a layup to make it 82-71 but Chapman scored a three-point jump shot and a layup in quick succession to bring the deficit down to only six points, at 82-76.
But there were only 30 seconds left in the game and Manama’s Tony Farmer firmly locked Kazma out by making a lay-up to seal victory.
Earlier, Husain and Pointer played key roles in Manama’s 23-17 lead at the end of the first quarter before Husain scored another 10 points on his own in the second to ensure the Bahraini club had a narrow, 44-41, lead at half-time.
Kazma fought back through Borhamah and Chapman to draw level at 45-45 after four minutes in the third quarter but Pointer, with eight points, Ali (Husain’s brother), Thibodeaux and Farmer combined to secure an eight-point lead, at 62-54, as the game headed into the final quarter.
This was Manama’s third consecutive win over Kazma, after the Bahraini club beat the Kuwaiti side twice in last year’s three-match semi-final playoffs.
Manama’s next game is on December 4 against Qatar’s Al Shamal at the Zain Basketball Arena.