Al Ahli Jeddah coach sticks to positives, lauds wards' efforts despite loss
MANAMA (Bahrain) - Al Ahli Jeddah fell to a 0-2 hole in the FIBA West Asia Super League (WASL) Season 2 on Tuesday but head coach Ali Alsanhani simply stuck to the positives.
The veteran mentor lauded his wards in putting up a gallant stand against Muharraq despite coming up short, ultimately becoming the only winless team in Group A of the Gulf League.
"I'm really happy with the effort [even though] we're missing a lot of players," he said during the postgame press conference of the 94-80 defeat at the BBA Arena.
The team has been riddled by injuries since entering FIBA WASL but such an issue was hardly seen with the way they competed against a Bahraini side buoyed by their raucous fans.
Alsanhani's crew engaged Muharraq to a tooth-and-nail battle in the first three quarters, in which both teams exchanged leads multiple times before entering he fourth tied at 72.
Unfortunately, though, they can only do so much, as veterans Bader Malabes and Tyler Wilkerson began to buckle down to work to lift the home team to the triumph.
Yet the former Saudi Arabia men's team chief mentor remained satisfied. "I have three players injured ... they make the team stronger than last year, this year we miss them, I'm sure they will be back. I'm sorry for my players but I'm happy with what they're doing," he said.
Receiving praise in particular for embodying the grit was guard Marzouq Almuwallad, who played for a total of 39 minutes and 57 seconds and finished with 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. The 31-year-old almost played for the entirety of the match, yes.
"This is the third game in a row that Mizo has played 40 minutes. He's never [done that]," said Alsanhani. "I coached the Saudi national team or Al Ahli or different teams, no one has played with me for 40 minutes. But he knows the situation, so I had to play him for 40 minutes."
Almuwallad, who's one of the team's top scorers with 19.0 points a game, has no qualms about it whatsoever. He's positive, too, that win no. 1 will come to them sooner.
"We're very optimistic that we'll have that first win," he said through a translator.