03 October, 2023
26 November
1 Zachary Lofton (LBA)
Game Report
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Al Ahly Benghazi survive BC Virunga scare to book Semi-Final spot


YAOUNDE (Cameroon) - Al Ahly Benghazi topped Group A of the West Division Elite 16 after beating BC Virunga 84-73 on Thursday and become the second team to advance to the Semi-Finals. 

Zachary Lofton came up with a man of the performance, helping the Libyan champions to stay perfect after the Group Phase play.

BC Virunga started the game on a high note leaving nothing to chance against a star-studded Al Ahly inside the Paposy Arena.

They outscored the Libya champions in the first quarter 22-14 but dropped their guards in the second as Benghazi claimed a 19-15 lead for a 37-33 halftime advantage for Virunga.

Jonathan Nzambe, Frank Betoudji, Toussaint Nzuiki and Noe Cuma were all blazing for Virunga but it was Lofton who pulled the most effort in that first half for Al Alhy Benhgazi with 21 points just before the break.

Al Ahly Benghazi Coach, Aoun Monaem must have reacted angrily to the team trailing and his players showed up positively for the third quarter and outscored BC Virunga 29-17 with Chris Crawford and Souleyman Diabate making the difference and taking the lead to 62-54.

The last quarter was no different as a fast break from Junior Lukadi gave Virunga some respite.

But with Diabate causing problems for Virunga, Junior Lukadi and Frank Betoudji combined as twin towers to stop him. They did their best to an extent but his experience was too much for them to cope with as Ahly took the quarter at 22-19.

Zachary Lofton 

TURNING POINT: The impact of the Al Ahly players in the third quarter proved their mettle and from then on, they never looked back even as Lofton insisted that the team was not yet at its best.

The rest he was given on the bench proved vital for his return to the court as he executed the bench’s instruction and that put Al Ahly in the advantage.

Benghazi's head coach Aoun Monaem’s reading of the game was huge for his side as his players didn't disappoint in executing the offense and also playing good defense.

HEROES: Lofton's 32 points proved vital for Benghazi. His efforts were complimented by Ater Majok who recorded a double-double of 10 points and 11 rebounds. Two other players, Diabate and Sofian Hamad had 10 points apiece.

STATS DON'T LIE: A small but key detail saw Benghazi come up on the top. Virunga outscored Benghazi from the three-point line, making 10 of their 30 attempts against Al Ahly's 6-for-39, but making just 3 of 7 free-throws proved costly for the Congolese champions. Benghazi were more efficient, finishing 12-for-14 from the charity stripe. 

BOTTOM LINE: Al Ahly Benghazi continue to live up to expectations. After signing some household names in the African basketball market, Benghazi showed they mean business. Both FAP and Benghazi are through to the Semi-Finals while BC Virunga have been eliminated. 

WHAT THEY SAID: "I think the turning point was the rest I had when I sat out in the second half. We had to play defense and make adjustments in our plays. Virunga had good guards and were making some shots but we had to play hard to win." – Zachary Lofton of Al Ahly.

"It was a big game for us but the size of the players of Ahly Benghazi was intimidating because they are really big and that affected us. Aside from that, we played a very hard game against FAP." – Noe Cuma of BC Virunga.