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BRN/IND – Muharraq kick start proceedings with a win
KUWAIT (FIBA Asia Champions Cup) - With their double-barreled American imports Donald Little and Rahshun Roberts firing in all cylinders Bahrain’s Al Muharraq kick started their Group ‘B’ campaign in the 19th FIBA Asia Champions Cup with a 109-58 win against Oil and Natural Gas Commission (Dehradun, India) on Thursday.
Coach John Wojtak, coming fresh after winning the Bahrain National league chose to play at full blast right from the word go, sometimes giving the feel of overestimating the opponents. And his boys responded to his call with Bahrainis Mohammed Mohammed, Ahmed Aldoy, Abdul Majed Mohammed and Mohammed Al Thagafi rallying well round their American colleagues.
Muharraq raced to a 14-0 run in the first four minutes of the game – even as their Indian rivals were struggling to find their feet – and seized control of the proceedings. A situation that never went out of their control for the rest of whatever little was left in the encounter.
Rashun Roberts top scored the game with 23 points returning a staggering 90-plus% scoring rate, along with 6 defensive rebounds, but it was Donald Little who joined the team only a couple of weeks ago, who took away the MVP award. Little, collected 19 rebounds – 15 in defense – apart from his 18 points.
“He’s been a great find for us,” Muharraq coach John Wojtak beamed.
“I was a little apprehensive before the start since they were a completely unknown package. So therefore, we warmed up rather well for the rest of the championship with this game,” the Austrian added. “In a way, I think the margin would help us boost our confidence.”
“I was also a little worried because we were rather low on conditioning. We took a break after winning the league (in Bahrain) and got together only 10 days ago. So obviously, I was a little nervous. But by the interval the boys had got into their groove and I’m glad we won without having to reveal all my cards,” he said.
ONGC, on the other hand found the going rather tough. And their task got only more uphill against an opponent who not only grew in scoring but also in confidence, they had to resort to some outside shooting in the later stages of the game. And those shots taken without conviction or confidence going expectedly wayward ONGC could only take the experience of playing from this game.
Al Muharraq, Bahrain 109 (Rahshun Roberts 23, Donald Little 18, Mohd. Al Thagafi 12) bt ONGC, India 58 (Anoop Mukkanniyil 15, Mukesh Bhandari 12). Quarterwise: 29-8, 57-21, 86-35.