Manama pull rug from under Al Hilal in OT thriller, move closer to WASL-Gulf Final
RIYADH (Saudi Arabia) - Manama rallied back and frustrated Al Hilal in overtime, 82-78, in yet another solid display of character to move a win away from the WASL-Gulf Final, Monday night at the Green Basketball Court in Riyadh.
Ahmed Haji sealed the deal by calmly sinking both of his free throws with 5.4 seconds left, fittingly ending the game he himself pushed into an extra period by nailing a booming corner triple in the dying moments of regulation to tie it at 68.
🇧🇭المنامة 🔵🔴 يخطف المباراة الأولى في عقر دار الهلال#FIBAWASL x #ChampionsCup | @ManamaClub pic.twitter.com/5INFcGWHe0— FIBA Asia Champions Cup (@FIBAAsiaCC) April 17, 2023
His charities preserved as well the efforts of Lamont Jones, Mohammed Hamooda, and the revitalized Mosti Rashed in making sure that the visiting side would take control of the OT to eventually complete their comeback from as much as 15.
The Semi-Final series now heads to the BBA Arena in Manama for Game 2 next Monday, with the club, of course, keen on closing it out to formalize their entry to the Big Dance.
Game heroes: Haji and Hamooda shared in bannering the rally with 17 points apiece as they carried over their fine play from the Qualification to Semi-Finals, with Hamooda earning STEP AHEAD Player of the Game honors.
Jones finished with a double-double of 15 points and 10 assists, together with a quartet of rebounds and a pair of steals against just one turnover.
Rashed produced 13 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists in 21 minutes off the bench as he was utilized heavily again after being used sparingly in the past few games.
Travin Thibodeaux was just a field goal shy of a double-double with 8 points and 13 rebounds but it was his efforts in helping contain Al Hilal's frontline led by Mo Alsuwailem and Clint Chapman that stood out in the victory.
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Turning point: After yielding 13 straight points to open the second quarter, Manama showed that they could also pull off scoring runs, unloading 14 in a row abridging the third and fourth chapters to take a 64-58 lead with 5:03 on the clock.
Al Hilal still fought back and tried to prevent a collapse from taking place with Osama Albargawi putting them ahead by three, 68-65, with 15.8 seconds left, but a defensive breakdown on the other end led to Haji sending the game into OT.
Haji would then open the extra period with another triple and Manama would never relinquish their hold of the driver's seat the rest of the way.
Stats don't lie: Although they fought as hard as they can, Al Hilal missing their first 10 field goals in the fourth quarter indeed spelled doom for the team -- t wasn't until Albargawi broke the drought with a wing triple with 1:51 on the clock.
They said: "Super proud. I think we just keep showing resiliency, we keep showing togetherness. We got down early, and I don't think we got the led until the fourth quarter. They came back and took the lead. But we just showed some heart. We got back in the game, we never quit, and we played together. That's the name of the game." - Lamont Jones, Manama
"I think in the fourth quarter we had a mental breakdown, we made a lot of mistakes on the defensive end, and even the last shot to send the game into overtime, we had a foul to give but the guys forgot about that. We just have to learn from our mistakes." - Khalid Abdel Gabar, Al Hilal