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Manama bubble comes to a close with wins from Bahrain, Kazakhstan, and undefeated Lebanon
MANAMA (Bahrain) - The Manama bubble concluded with three games on the final gameday, highlighted by big wins from teams that stayed undefeated throughout their stay in Bahrain.
Kazakhstan started the day with another big win over Sri Lanka, 107-37. Lebanon later followed up by breaking away in the second half to beat India, 99-71. The action capped off with a nail-biting win from Bahrain over Iraq, 80-77.
Kazakhstan played against Sri Lanka for the second time in five days and it was also the third game for both teams in the same time span. For Sri Lanka, it was also their second consecutive game in two days.
The Steppen Wolves locked their opponents up and allowed only 2 points in the first quarter, setting up the tone for the entire game in a blowout win. All 12 players got on the scoreboard for Kazakhstan, led by Anton Bykov who had 21 points on 10-11 shooting.
After going 3-0 in the Manama bubble, Kazakhstan are now 4-1 in Group F. Sri Lanka drop to an 0-5 record.
Lebanon went up against the youth movement of India in what was both team’s final game of the Qualifiers. The game was tightly contested in the first half, but Lebanon managed to breakaway with their defense and maintain their perfect Qualifiers record.
The Cedars feasted in the open court once again as they forced India to commit 26 turnovers which was converted to 30 points on their end. All players from Lebanon scored in the game with 5 players scoring in double-digits for the victors. This time, it was Joseph Chartouny’s time to shine as he recorded 24 points to go with 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals. Gerard Hadidian also recorded his second straight double-double with 16 points and 12 boards.
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In the loss for India, coach Veselin Matic was able to give his youngster valuable playing time against a team of Lebanon’s caliber. Promising big man Amaan Sandhu had 6 points and 10 rebounds for India in nearly 25 minutes of play.
The win puts an emphasis on how well Lebanon have played through the Qualifiers as the top-ranked squad in Group D finish with a 6-0 record. India close things out with a 2-4 record, good for third-place in Group D which means they will later be playing in the Qualifying Tournament for third-ranked teams.
Even though the result of last game for Group D in the Qualifiers did not have any effect on the final standings, both Bahrain and Iraq put all of their efforts on the table. It ended in a battle down to the final seconds where the bubble hosts edged away with an 80-77 win.
Iraq had built moment and even led for most of the first half by up to 10 points, but suffered two dry spells which eventually cost them the game. They went scoreless for nearly 6 minutes, spreading across the tail end of the second quarter to the start of the third quarter allowing Bahrain to go on a 16-0 run and take the lead for good. Iraq fought back in the final minutes of the contest but were never able to reclaim the lead.
Coach Sam Vincent got a surprising performance from Ahmed Salman Ramadhan Haji who scored 10 points in the fourth quarter alone. The 1.75M (6’9”) had only scored a combined total of 12 points in his previous 3 games through the Qualifiers but came up huge for 14 points in this match.
Iraq put up a valiant effort down to the very last play, but will fortunately come out of the Qualifiers without a victory. Kevin Galloway flirted with a triple-double once again with 18 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists while Ali Hamad had 11 points and 7 assists in the rally.
Bahrain had successfully clinched their spot at Asia Cup 2021 back in November 2020 and now end their Qualifiers journey in Group D with a 4-2 record.