Zhejiang Golden Bulls edge out Al Ahly to reach podium on first try
SINGAPORE (Singapore) - It took a long two hours and 13 minutes, but the Zhejiang Golden Bulls made history by becoming the first Chinese team in FIBA Intercontinental Cup history to reach the podium.
They sent Al Ahly to fourth place with an 81-74 win. This was the third straight time that a team from Africa finished fourth in the history of the competition.
Turning point: Zhejiang Golden Bulls took control of the game in the second half, after trailing by as many as 11 points in the first. Al Ahly did everything they could to erase the 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter and made it back to 72-67 with just two minutes left to play.
That's when Jarmar Gulley knocked down a big three-pointer and followed up with a steal and an assist to Zilu Wang to make it +7 in the final minute. There was no comeback, despite the big effort by Al Ahly.
Rigorer Player of the Game: Reginald Perry was the big body inside for the Golden Bulls, using all of his size and strength to collect a 23-point, 12-rebound double-double, with 4 assists on the side.
"(We were) really just focused on trying to get the defensive stops. I feel like we did really well in the second half doing that. It was really tough, really physical and the refs let us play. They have a few good bigs, so it was tough. It was a great experience, FIBA did a great job in this tournament, I loved playing in it," Perry said after the game.
Stats don't lie: Free throws were the big issue for the BAL champs. Al Ahly had no trouble drawing contact and getting to the line, but converted just 23-of-42 free throws. A total of 19 missed free throws in a seven-point game...
Bottom line: Zhejiang Golden Bulls are building their golden generation right now, with a 20-point, 5-assist game from the club legend Qian Wu.
The core has been together for a long time now, and after finishing as the best Regular Season team in the Chinese Basketball Association and losing the Finals there last season, they now add another accolade to their history books with a third spot in Singapore.
Al Ahly can only blame themselves for losing this game because of their poor shooting. Still, they leave Singapore as the first African team to ever record a win at the FIBA Intercontinental Cup, and will look to be back here next year, if they have another successful BAL campaign in Africa.
Omar Araby had 14 points and 11 rebounds, Michael Fakuade had 10 and 11 in those same columns in this game.