Leagues

Muharraq surprise Champion in Bahrain

MUHARRAQ were last night crowned Zain Bahrain Basketball League champions for the second time in their history after an epic 100-92 come-from-behind, extra-time victory over Al Ahli in game four of the best-of-five final series.

The win, at Zain Bahrain Basketball Arena in Umm Al Hassam was the third on the trot for Muharraq over their rivals and gave them an unassailable 3-1 series lead.

For most of last nights clash however, it seemed for all money that a fifth meeting of the two sides would be needed to decide the destination of the title, as Al Ahli held the lead, and for the most a comfortable one, from literally the first minute to the last.

Following the remarkable and unceremonious sacking of coach Brian Lester following Wednesdays loss in game three, Al Ahli entered last nights episode under the guidance of former right-hand-man Aqeel Milad but the veteran campaigner couldnt have asked for a better opening from his side.

Muharraq notched the first point of the match, through American star Chester Giles (211-F/C-85, college: Oregon St.), it was virtually all one way traffic until the hooter sounded for quarter-time as the 17-time champions then went on a spree of 11 unanswered points and finished with a near-unbelievable 33-11 advantage to take firm control of the match.

Already knowing that this would be the stuff of legend if they were to come back from such a deficit, Muharraq outfit returned to court looking a little shell-shocked but they managed to at least stem the Al Ahli tide to go to half-time 52-34 in arrears.

A vital start to the second half was vital to Muharraq and they duly delivered it and continued to chip away at the lead, which, with ten minute to go, was down to single figures.

That final quarter was as tense as they come as both sides tried to out-do each other.

Amazingly though, a well-taken three-pointer from Ahmed Hasan saw Muharraq draw level for the first time since the top-off, and send the game into extra time.

All the momentum was with Muharraq at that stage and, in an almost exact reversal of game one, Al Ahli imploded to hand victory to their opponents.

Nobody in their right mind would deny Muharraq are worthy champions, as they cap off a magnificent season that has seen them lead the way throughout the league campaign and also capture the Bahrain Basketball Cup back in May.

Packed with action and no little drama, this finals series has had it all.

Despite getting off to a slow start in game one, Al Ahli came alive in the closing stages to force it into extra time and then cranked up the gears to register what had seemed a highly unlikely 84-70 victory.

Muharraq hit back to claim a 92-90 win in game two, which was almost overshadowed by angry clashes between players, officials and fans of the two sides after the final hooter, before a 70-61 victory on Sunday.

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