Al Ahli outlast Pauian to take Semi-Finals berth
By virtue of the win, the UAE club clinched the second Semi-Finals berth of the tournament, joining Petrochimi, which already won earlier today. Samuel Young, who scored 50 points on opening day, had another memorable offensive outing here. Rising star Qais Al-Shabebi also did well, putting up a 22-point, 14-rebound double-double, while Khalifa Salem added 17 points off the bench. As expected, Quincy Davis paced Pauian with 20 points and 13 boards, while team captain Lin Chin-Pang tossed in 15 points of his own.
Turning Point: Pauian had the advantage early on, leading by 6 at the end of the first quarter, but UAE were able to turn the tables in the next two quarters to carry a slim 5-point lead into the fourth period. Pauian last threatened at 85-79 with under a minute left after Doug Creighton hit a triple, but Al Ahli were able to hit the insurance baskets in the dying seconds to preserve the victory.
Stats Don't Lie: Pauian just turned the ball over too many times in this one. The Taipei club coughed the ball up 22 times, caused mainly by 14 Al Ahli steals. The UAE squad then scored 21 points off these turnovers, and that proved to be the big difference in the end.
Game Hero: Samuel Young continued to dazzle. The 31-year-old 2.05m wingman lit up Chenzhou anew by scoring 40 points against Pauian. Young hit 15 of his 30 field goal attempts while also grabbing 8 rebounds, handing out 4 assists and netting 2 steals. He was plainly unstoppable in this contest, and if he catches fire again in the next game, Al Ahli may just make the Final.
The Bottom Line: They had to scramble, but Al Ahli were able to outlast the gritty Pauian quintet. This gives the UAE team great momentum heading into the next round, where they will probably face powerhouse club Al Riyadi of Lebanon. Al Ahli will need all the luck in the world in that match to advance to the Final. Pauian have nothing to be ashamed of, though, since they played a great game and gave Al Ahli all they could handle. The Taipei five are now relegated to playing in the Classification Games.