19 December, 2022
23 May, 2023
2 Lamont Jones (MNM), 14 Hasan Mohamed (MNM)
Game Report
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Brooms out as Manama sweep Al Hilal en route WASL Gulf Final

MANAMA (Bahrain) - Manama brought out the brooms as it swept Al Hilal at home, 86-71, on the way to the WASL-Gulf Final, Monday night at the BBA Arena.

Buoyed by a raucous partisan crowd, the crew turned the game around in the second quarter before pulling away for good in the deciding period to complete the upset against the Saudi Arabian side, who were among the league's first Semi-Finalists.

The victory, furthermore, has made Manama the very first team to punch a ticket to the much-anticipated WASL Final 8 happening in June.

Now, they wait for the winner of the other Semis bracket featuring the undefeated Kuwait Club and Shabab Al Ahli-Dubai for their foes in the best-of-3 Gulf Final. The two will play Game 2 of their series on Tuesday night at the latter's home floor.

Al Hilal, on the other hand, still have a chance to make it to the Final 8 by way of the Third-Place Game, where they'll take on the loser of the other pairing.

Game heroes: Lamont Jones starred yet again with 24 points, 4 rebounds, and 7 assists to lead Manama, who have now won their fourth game in a row since losing the Qualification to Semi-Finals opener against the then-streaking Kazma.

With that, 'Momo' earned STEP AHEAD Player of the Game honors via landslide as fans greatly appreciated how he's led the club's turnaround.

Ahmed Haji produced 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field, while Mohammed Hamooda supplied a complete line of 11 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks as the two continued their solid play in the Final Phase.

Mustafa Rashed sustained his touch as well with 10 points while Hasan Mohamed was the surprise spark this time with also 10 to his name, spiked by 3 triples.

Turning point: Manama were staring at an eight-point deficit early in the second stanza until the troika of Jones, Haji, and Hamooda joined forces for a 15-0 run to take the 35-28 lead with under three minutes on the clock.

The team outscored Al Hilal, 22-9, in the said period to remain ahead the rest of the way, although it was really in the final frame where the game would be all but settled, with 'Mosti' helping out in finishing the match strong.

Stats don't lie: Manama did take advantage of playing on their own stomping grounds as they shot 52-percent from the floor, thanks to 22 team assists.

They did lose the rebounding battle against the taller Al Hilal frontline, 33-43, but made up for it on defense as they collected a total of 13 steals. Manama also forced their foes to commit 22 turnovers, which they converted to 25 points.

Defense was also key in limiting Mohammed Alsuwailem to just 14 points and 10 rebounds, far from his usual self as Hamooda, Elijah Robinson, and Travin Thibodeaux made it one difficult night for the 2.08 M (6'10") center.

They said: ""I'm the kind of person or a coach who always believes that anything is possible with hard work. And this is what I do throughout my career. It's a combination of things, you know. It's not only my arrival, but Momo's arrival, a player with a strong personality and leadership ability; and Travin, who is the right piece for our team -- a defensive stopper who can shoot from outside. So, yes, I'm always expecting the best. Obviously it's a surprise to see underdogs to kick out Hilal and Kazma -- we're talking about budget, names, etcetera. But always, hard work and team work wins. I always believe we can do the best." - Pantelis Gavriel, Head Coach, Manama

"I think just listening. When I first got here, from what I saw, was guys not listening. Not being together, so to say. I think as time went on, Coach came in, Travin came in, we started to form an identity. I think day by day, we've begun to listen more, we've begun to come together more, and we've begun to accept responsibility more. Whereas, I think, when I first came in, there's no responsibility. Now there's a lot of responsibility." - Lamont Jones, Manama

"You know, it's been a crazy season. To actually get there? We had nothing but belief that we would get to this moment right here. It feels expected, but it's glad that it's here, you know." - Elijah Robinson, Manama

"We gotta go back to pur first game. We had an opportunity to win in regulation but we made some errors there, and gave Manama to win the first game. You have to give them credit for laying tough tonight. They have a great fanbase here. I've played in a lot of places around the world and this is one of the best fanbases I've played in front of. So, yeah, it goes back to the last 15 seconds of the first game. It's really tough to swallow, still, and then you gotta come on the road and play in a tough environment. All the credit to Manama." - Clint Chapman, Al Hilal

"We had a homecourt advantage starting the series in the Semi-Finals. I think us losing at home was the turning point. We made some mistakes in the first game, and we tried to correct it in the second game, and I felt like we played a lot better. We obviously had a great start today in the first quarter but like Coach said, Manama is a great team. They all played together. And, they took the opportunity from our mistakes, and capitalized on the defensive end. " - Khalid Abdel Gabar, Al Hilal