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Ahmad Madwar

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Bahrain make winning start - Oct 1, 2012


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BAHRAIN yesterday had a flying start as they downed three-time champions Saudi Arabia 67-64 in the opening match of the 13th GCC Men's Basketball Championship, which got underway at the Zain Bahrain Basketball Arena in Um Al Hassam.

Bader Malabes and Ahmed Al Durazi orchestrated a late comeback by the home side, who rallied from the first quarter to snatch a sensational win in an action-packed opener, keeping alive their dream of winning the prestigious competition for the first time.

Malabes, son of former national team star Abdulla Jassim, fired two three-pointers in the last two minutes, then Al Durazi made further contributions scoring four consecutive points to help Bahrain overcome a stumbling start to the game.

Also guiding Bahrain to victory were Hussain Shaker, Ahmed Aziz, Mohammed Hussain, Mohammed Qurban and Chester Giles (211-F/C-85, college: Oregon St.).

Bahrain's coach Mindaugas Zukauskas of Lithuania was also banking on several other talents, including Mohammed Kuwayyed and veteran Ahmed Malalla.

The tournament's organisers, who had a short training camp in Serbia, headed into this opener hoping to capture a morale-boosting victory. They faced a younger, but well-prepared Saudi team who had the upper hand in yesterday's early proceedings.

Saudi Arabia also entered yesterday's match with a better head-to-head record, having won their last eight matches against Bahrain.

They took advantage of the Bahrain players' failure to capitalise on several occasion, and capitalising on their counter attacks by Ayman Belal, Fahad Al Salem, Jaber Al Kaabi and Mohammed Al Mawani for 41-29 lead at half-time.

Players

The Saudis, who came well-prepared with a long training camp in Jeddah and Turkey, also played the game with new faces who replaced some of the team's experienced players like Hani Al Ahmed, Fahad Al Qanaisi and Ayoob Hawsawi.

The visitors continued to prove the better side later on, but a late inspiration by Al Durazi and Malabes put Bahrain ahead for the first time with less than one minute and 30 seconds remaining.

With thousands of home supporters cheering their team, there was no stopping Bahrain who maintained momentum in the closing stages to seal a three-point victory.

Earlier yesterday, favourites the UAE sent a strong warning to all contestants as they kick-started their campaign with a resounding 95-59 victory over Oman.

The tournament was then inaugurated by Bahrain Basketball Association president and Parliament Council member Adel Al Assoomi, which was followed by a laser show performed some several volunteers.

Meanwhile, two matches are scheduled for today with Saudi Arabia facing Qatar at 5pm. It will be followed by a crucial game for Bahrain against the UAE at 7pm.

Three teams - Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait - had won the title three teams, while the UAE were crowned champions twice.

The Bahrain Basketball Association announced that entry is free of charge and all are welcome to watch the region's top basketball teams in action.

The week-long tournament, being organised for the 13th time, features five of the GCC teams competing in a single round robin matches. Kuwait was unable to send a team for the event.

Qatar head into this edition's cup as the defending champions, having defeated the UAE 81-74 in the previous tournament which took place in 2010 in Dubai.

Source GDN Posted on Monday, October 01, 2012
  




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