13 November, 2023
06 May, 2024
Game Report
to read

Kazma close in on Gulf League Semis after staving off Al Rayyan

KUWAIT CITY (Kuwait) - Kazma put one foot into the FIBA WASL-Gulf League Season 2 Semi-Finals following a character-testing victory against the gutsy Al Rayyan, 69-61, Tuesday night at the Shaikh Saad Alabdullah Sport Hall Complex in the Kuwaiti capital.

Elijah Williams proved his worth with a solid league debut, while usual suspects Abdulaziz Alhamidi and Ahmad Albaloushi were reliable time and again as the troika helped the home team close the game out strongly after the visitors briefly took the lead from a big deficit early.

Kazma will try to formalize their Semis entry - and set up an all-Kuwaiti showdown against defending sub-zone league champions Kuwait Club - in Game 2 next Tuesday, March 12, at the Al-Gharafa Sports Club Multi-Purpose Hall in Doha, Qatar. Tip-off is at 22:00 local time.

It's also a chance for the squad to exorcise the ghost of Season 1. It could be recalled that they already led 1-0 in their Qualification to Semi-Finals series against Manama, only to allow their Bahraini foes to come back and win the series - and eventually win the FIBA WASL crown.

Game heroes: Clint Chapman top-billed for Kazma once more with a big double-double showing of 19 points and 16 rebounds. He also had an assist, 3 steals, and a pair of blocks.

Alhamidi finished with 14 points, spiked by two three-pointers, while fellow veteran Albaloushi came through with all-around numbers of 11 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals.

Turning point: Williams only made 9 points, but scored 8 of it in the fourth quarter alone as he took charge after Kazma lost an 11-point deficit and trailed by three, 55-52, early in the said period.

He tied the game up through a three-point play conversion with 8:24 on the clock, before Alhamidi and Albaloushi joined in the fray shortly after to give themselves a 60-55 advantage.

Al Rayyan still tried to rally back and got to within a point, 62-61, with under four minutes remaining but Alhamidi nailed practically the dagger through a triple with 2:32 to go. Williams and Albaloushi would go on to hit the final blows as the crew sealed the deal through a 7-0 run.

Stats don't lie: Defense was key for Kazma in the victory. They collected 13 steals and forced the opposition to commit 23 turnovers, which they turned into 23 points.

They said: "I have to congratulate my players for playing extremely well defensively. Extremely high energy, We only allowed 61 points. Of course as a coach, you always seek to improve, you are kind of unsatisfied since you can always play better and smarter, but energy-wise, I congratulate my players. This is what we asked from them before the game and they did it. This was, for me, one of the keys for tonight." - Bojan Lazic, Head Coach, Kazma

"We wanted to keep the score low. That was our goal. I think if you look at the way we played defense today - flying around, getting hands on balls, getting deflections and steals and blocked shots, and we didn't give up a lot of easy shots, and we wanted them to struggle from the three-point line. So I think from our side defensively, I think we did a great job. One of our best games of the yea ... we can improve offensively, and that's the goal." - Clint Chapman, Kazma

"We tried to explain to our players how they would need to approach a playoff game. A game that's in a best-of-three series, especially on the road. Obviously we didn't make them understand how to play this type of game. I would like to congratulate Kazma because they really understood how this game should be played. They played very, very aggressive. They showed us how we would need to play this type of game. Hopefully we'll learn our lesson from this." - Stergios Koufus, Head Coach, Al Rayyan

"I think we showed effort. All season long, whether we have injuries or guys missing out a practice or we have a tough schedule ahead, we just know we have to stick together as a team and continue to push. We can't hang our heads. We know that the next game in WASL, we are facing elimination. We have to work this week, play well, practice well, so we could tie it up and go back here for Game Three." - Nick Griffin, Al Rayyan