The first game of the morning on day three of the West Asia Qualifying Tournament saw Bahrain and UAE playing for a semi-final berth. After disappointing performances yesterday both teams were determined to make amends. The opening quarter was basket for basket in a defence-orientated game and it was UAE who edged the lead by 2 at the first break. In another even quarter, this time Bahrain edging the quarter score by 2, meant the game was tied at 28 a piece at halftime. On the back of some excellent finishing by Nabeel Aldoseri in the third quarter, Bahrain opened up a six-point gap at the final change. UAE tired allowing Bahrain to power forward in the final period and run out winners, 67-45.
Aldoseri led all scorers with 30 points, ably supported by Ahmed Meshaima on 18 points. For UAE Mohamed Alzarooni and Ibrahim Alhammadi, with 17 and 12 points respectively, did the bulk of the scoring.
The second crossover game to decide the final semi-final place had Saudi Arabia playing Jordan, with Saudi Arabia keen to bounce back from their narrow defeat by Iraq, whilst Jordan hoped to give the home crowd something to cheer about.
After an even first period, the taller and faster Saudi team took control early on, as Jordan struggled to contain them, opening up a comfortable 19-point half-time lead. They continued to draw away, and despite an even final quarter, Saudi Arabia secured their semi-final place in confident style, 65-36.
Once again the scoring was spread evenly for Saudi Arabia with four players making double figures led by Almakinah (14) and Bin Diran (13). For Jordan Abukhater (12) and Thabet (11) topped the scoring.
After a break in play, the evening session saw both semi-finals take place. The first matched up undefeated Iraq play Bahrain, who had surprised themselves to get to this stage of the tournament. Iraq full court pressed to dominate was too much for Bahrain, and Iraq stormed to a 19-point advantage at quarter time. They maintained the pressure and went to a seemingly unassailable 31-point lead at halftime. Both Saif Al Taie and Hayder Al Sarraji were well into double figures by this time as Bahrain had no answer to their height and speed. The third period continued in the same vein. In the final period the Iraqi coach rotated his bench and Bahrain were able to break even, but it was too little too late as Iraq progressed to the final 69-33. Raad Al Khafaji (14) and Mohammed Zaidi (10) took up the scoring in the second half, while Nabeel Aldoseri was a lone hand for Bahrain with 15 points.
The last game of the day had unbeaten Kuwait playing Saudi Arabia for the last qualification spot at the Asian Para Games. Starting favourites Kuwait struggled early in the game as Saudi Arabia played more controlled basketball and had the better shot selection to open up a 7-point first quarter lead. The Saudi’s continued in this manner which surprised the Kuwaitis, who appeared to panic at being behind for the first time in the tournament, and by halftime had extended their lead to 10.
Kuwait settled in the third period and at the last change they had pulled the deficit back to 7, but the final quarter belonged to the Saudi team as they pressured Kuwait into a number of turnovers and rushed shots, before running out winners 59-43.
For the victors Mahdi Almakinah again stood out with 17 points, well supported by Abdul Bin Shaylan with 12 points – with six other players hitting the scoresheet to show what an even scoring team they are. Kuwait’s reliance on Yousef Nasir and Mohammad Algharib in past games showed as they could only muster 16 points between them, both well held by the Saudi defence as the remaining players struggled to score.
Iraq and Saudi Arabia have now qualified for the October Asian Para Games in Jakarta, and will face off in the final tomorrow.
09.00 – Game 7 – UAE 45 – 67 BAH
11.00 – Game 8 – KSA 65 – 36 JOR
17.00 – SF1 – IRQ 69 – 33 BAH
19.00 – SF2 – KUW 43 – 59 KSA
Photo Credit – Iraq Wheelchair Basketball Association