21 - 24
September 2023
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Day 1 recap: Al Ahly stun NBA G League Ignite; smooth sailing for Bonn

SINGAPORE (Singapore) - The first day of the FIBA Intercontinental Cup 2023 saw the Basketball Africa League champs ,Al Ahly, pick up the continent's first win in the history of the competition, defeating the rising stars who came together in the NBA G League Ignite team.

The Egyptian squad showed no opening night jitters  as they traded blows with the young team from the United States, and their 82-76 win is in line with this year's trend for Egyptian basketball, which is  earning a place for itself on the world stage.

Al Ahly won the Basketball Africa League, the national team had two wins and nearly booked a direct flight to Paris 2024 at the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023, and a couple of heroes of that journey went off in the Thursday game to start Group A proceedings in Singapore.

Ehab Amin scored a team-high 15 points, with 7 rebounds also to his name, and not a single turnover in 20 minutes of action. Omar Oraby picked up a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double, and he wasn't the only one with a double-double in points and rebounds because Mostafa Kejo collected 10 and 13 off the bench.

"I feel so happy because we won this game. We always believed we could win, me and my teammates, we worked hard in the game, we believed and that's it, we won," Kejo said after being selected as the player of the game.

He didn't exactly sound over the moon after picking up a first win by any African club in FIBA Intercontinental Cup history. That's because Al Ahly expected to win this game all along.

"We want to win the second game {against Sesi Franca}. We want to play the Final, that's our target in this Intercontinental Cup," Mostafa added.

A two-time NBA champ with the Miami Heat also did his part for Al Ahly. Norris Cole had 13 points and 9 assists, doing everything to get his teammates involved since his shots weren't falling at 4-of-17 from the field.

Ten different players scored for coach Agustin Julbe and all of them played less than 30 minutes, meaning they will be fresh when they return to the court in the Singapore Indoor Stadium in less than 24 hours, facing BCL Americas champions Sesi Franca.

NBA G League Ignite played without two of their starters in Eric Mika and Matas Buzelis, potential lottery pick in the next NBA Draft. Ron Holland , who could end up as the number one overall pick next June,  had 15 points and 5 rebounds before fouling out in nearly 30 minutes of playing time.

Another 18-year-old was the top scorer of the game, Tyler Smith had 18 points off the bench for coach Jason Hart.

New Bonn, same old habits

There was no drama in the other matchup of the day. Telekom Baskets Bonn opened up their account in Group B with a comfy 105-50 win over Al Manama.

The Basketball Champions League winners changed their lineup completely over the summer, but new coach Roel Moors kept the same identity - high intensity, team-first players, great defenders who can switch all and pressure all over the floor.

In such circumstances, it was down to Sam Griesel to do the scoring. The rookie who last played with the Nebraska Cornhuskers started his professional career with an impressive 28-point, 10-rebound double-double done in just 24 minutes of action.

"Just went out there and executed," he said after the game.

Sounds about right from the 23-year-old embarking on his European journey. He looked sharp from the start, putting up 14 points in the first quarter alone, matching the production of the entire Al Manama team after 10 minutes of basketball.

"That's all credit to my teammates. They've been great, very easy to get along with it. I'm enjoying my time with Bonn," Griesel explained.

Four other players were in double figures for Bonn, while Glynn Watson, Harald Frey and Brian Fobbs dished out 16 assists, most of them kickouts for wide open threes. Bonn made 19 of those, with Griesel leading the way with six.

It probably would've been a much different game if Al Manama could get anything going from deep. They shot just 3-of-21 from beyond the arc, and were outrebounded 57-27, including 24-17 under their own rim.

Bonn get a day off now, while Al Manama search for their first win in the game versus the Zhejiang Golden Bulls from China on Friday.