Smouha SC outscore Al Ahly, advance to FINAL FOUR
ALEXANDRIA (Egypt) - Smouha Sporting Club on Sunday became the second team to advance to the FIBA Africa Basketball League 2019 FINAL-FOUR.
Inspired by a tireless home crowd, and powered by James Justice and Augustine Okosun, who contributed team-highs 23 points apiece, Smouha SC outscored Egypt champions Al Ahly 88-81 to close the two-game ELITE 8 series with a 179- 163 win on aggregate.
In the process, with his game-best 10 assists Justice Jr. recorded the tournament's second highest (after AS Sale's Yassine El Mahsini's 13) dimes in game.
Reginald Holmes hit three of his seven three-point attempts en course to a team-best 18 points, Todd O'Brien recorded his fifth double-double (17 points and 17 rebounds) for the season, and even with Al Ahly's bench outscoring Smouha SC's 39-16, the defining encounter belonged to Smouha.
Al Ahly's Todd O'Brien recorded his fifth double-double of the FIBA Africa Basketball League 2019 campaign
With the win, Smouha extended their winning streak to an impressive 5-0 record, and joined Primeiro D'Agosto from Angola as the first two teams to advance to the FINAL Four in May.
It was a battle that Al Ahly needed to overcome a 9-point deficit from the first-leg in Cairo, a task that seemed possible, especially after their 2-1 playoff victory over Smouha SC in Egypt's 2019 Super League playoffs last week.
Despite a 40-33 halftime lead Smouha needed to regroup to deny an apparently confident Al Ahly side.
Augustine Okosun finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds
And although Al Ahly opened the second half with a 6-0 run, and used a full-court defence that disturbed their opponents at times, they struggled offensively finishing with a modest Field Goal Shooting (28 for 73) of 38 percent.
While Al Ahly - the winners of the 2016 FIBA Africa Champions Cup - close their campaign with a 2-3 mark and will now focus on the 2019 Super League playoffs, Smouha SC's dream to conquer Africa remains very much alive.