Al Ahli weather late Al Shorta storm
Down 12 points entering the fourth period, Al Shorta left it all on the floor in and made a last ditch effort to pull the rug from under their foes from UAE. Power forward Alaa Al-Saedi hit a big three-pointer that cut the deficit, 75-74, with just 5 seconds to go, but Saeed Al-Ajmani split his free throws in the dying seconds to peg the final count. It was a sorry loss for the Iraqis, who were hoping to get win #2. Samuel Young and Qais Al-Shabebi combined to score 48 points for Al Ahli, while Al Shorta drew a game-high 31 points from Justin Hawkins.
Turning Point: Al Shorta led, 15-10, at the end of the first period and looked to be in control, but the entry of Samuel Young in the second quarter changed the complexion of the game completely. AL Ahli outscored Al Shorta, 49-22, in the middle two periods to build a big enough cushion and set up what turned out to be a pivotal fourth quarter.
Stats Don't Lie: Al Shorta ruled the battle of the boards, 60-42, but this was offset in a big way by their turnovers. Al Ahli’s tight defense stifled Al Shorta no end and forced the Iraqi unit to cough up the ball 23 times. The UAE quintet promptly took advantage, scoring 23 points off those Iraqi mistakes.
Game Heroes: 24-year-old frontliner Qais Al-Shabebi shone brightly for Al Ahli, scoring 26 points and collaring 17 rebounds in the big win. He shot 12-of-21 from the field and also added 3 assists to his impressive stat-line. He may not be the biggest forward in the tournament, but he certainly packs quite a punch and should be one of Al Ahli’s marked men the rest of the way.
The Bottom Line: This pretty much makes Al Ahli the undisputed second place team in Group B, which cements their place in the Quarter-Finals and gives them a strong chance of having a favorable match up in the next round. Al Shorta wasted this great opportunity and will now have to beat Barsy Atyrau tomorrow to formalize their entry into Quarter-Finals.