Qatar Olympic Committee general-secretary and Qatar Basketball Association president Sheikh Saoud bin Abdulrahman al-Thani hands over the Qatar Cup to Al Gharafa’s Abdelqadir Salam at the Al Gharafa Indoor Hall yesterday. Pictures: Mamdouh
Al Gharafa fought off a sensational late challenge from Al Rayyan to win the Qatar Cup in a thrilling finale at the Gharafa Indoor Hall yesterday.
Al Rayyan looked dead and buried when they trailed by 22 points (47-25) at the end of the second quarter, but they almost turned the match on its head before eventually going down 91-88 after the first overtime. “That was close,” Al Gharafa coach Koussay al-Qhalaf sighed after the match. “This shows in competitive sport you cannot relax which we were guilty of after enjoying a comfortable lead,” he added.
Ward Spates with 29 points was the main scorer for Al Gharafa as he drained six three-pointers out of nine attempts to keep his team ahead most of the time.
Nigerian Osaro Adako lent him valuable support with 22, including 10 field goals from 18 tries, while Abdelqadir Salem had 11 and Thomas Blair 11. Al Gharafa, the Qatar Basketball League champions this year, thus not only asserted their supremacy once again this season, but also had some measure of revenge against Al Rayyan who had beaten them in the group stage of the Qatar Cup. “Yes we were confident about winning the title but we didn’t expect it to be this close,” said al-Qhalaf. “We had beaten Al Sadd in the semi-finals and we were looking forward to the final.
“And despite the narrow margin of the victory we proved the point that we are a rapidly improving side,” the coach added.
Al Gharafa made a fast start and before their rivals could settle down had taken a 14-3 lead after five minutes, which they almost doubled at the end of the second quarter. But by the end of the third quarter, Al Rayyan had cut down the lead to 10 points (66-56), but their real revival came in the final period when they scored a whopping 24 points, while restricting Al Gharafa to just 14 to tie the match 80-80 at the end of regulation.
Desean Jones was the main hitman for Al Rayyan with 39 points which included 15 field goals from 31 attempts and three three-pointers. Boney Watson with 19 and Malek Salim and Tanguy Ngombo with eight each played their part, but their iconic player and former Qatar captain Yaseen Musa could only manage five which proved beneficial to Al Gharafa.
“We fought gallantly, but today was simply not our day,” said Musa. “At one point it looked like Al Gharafa were running away with the title but we gave them a tough fight. Our only regret is that we allowed them to be so dominant in the first and second quarters,” the Qatar legend added. Musa, under whom Al Rayyan have won several titles in Qatar and the region, however, was looking forward to the Emir’s Cup, the most prestigious basketball tournament in Qatar.
“Yes we are disappointed having not won the league as well as the Qatar Cup, but we still have a lot to look forward too and hope to have the final say with a win in the Emir’s Cup.”
1) Al Gharafa players celebrate with their coach Koussay al-Qhalaf after the triumph.
2) Al Gharafa’s Monroe Samuel Jr. is poised to score against Al Rayyan in the Qatar Cup at the Gharafa Indoor Hall yesterday.
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