MANAMA, Bahrain (Bahrain Cup): Al Manama defeated Al Ahli 96-85 on Friday to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three Finals series of the Bahrain Cup 2011.
Ahli will now have to win Tuesday’s second game of the series to push the issue to the third and decisive game, which if necessary will be played next Saturday.
Incidentally, Al Ahli had beaten Manama 86-83 in the last league encounter to make the final.
Probably, the lessons learnt in that defeat kept Manama in good stead as they raced ahead 25-16 in the first quarter and never looked back. At the close of the first half, Manama were leading 49-37.
Outscoring their rivals 26-14 over the next ten minutes, Manama closed the third quarter with a sizable lead (75-51), which helped them stave off Ahli’s fourth quarter rally.
American Darius Rice led Manama’s charge with 27 points and 11 rebounds. Guard Mohammed Hassan had 20 points and 5 assists and Mahmood Ghuloom contributed 14 points.
Bahrain international Ahmed Al Mutawa and Nariooz, coming off the bench, each scored 11 points the former also accounting for 10 rebounds and 5 steals.
Sayed Hashim Ali’s 21 points was the highest for Ahli on a night when American import Marquin Chandler was restrained to 15 points. Chandler had scored a mammoth 43 points when Ahli had beaten Manama in the elimination round.
Qurban also had 15 points with Maytham Jameel scoring 18 and Abdulla Al Khaja a dozen points.