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Al Hala fend off Ahli challenge.

AL HALA pulled off a thrilling 70-69 victory over champions Al Ahli last night in the Zain Bahrain Basketball League.

Towering rofessional Patrick Simpson buried a pair of go-ahead free-throws with 11 seconds to play to give Hala a narrow two-point edge, 70-68. But then Ahli guard Maytham Jameel was fouled on the ensuing possession attempting a three-pointer from the right corner, and just 2.4 seconds on the clock. Jameel, however, succumbed to the pressure and sank just one of his three charity shots, gifting the win to their rivals.

Simpson scored 25 points, but it was Bahraini wing Abbas Jawadi who paced Hala with a game-high 26 markers.

Jawadi also came up big in the clutch. He buried a three-pointer that made it 68-all with a half-minute remaining. On the next play, Simpson made the defensive stop of the contest when he blocked an attempt from Ahli's Mahdi Ashoor, and the American was then fouled as he battled for the loose ball. That led to Simpson's crucial game-winning free-throws.

The result helped Hala rise to fifth place on the league table with a 6-7 win-loss record. Ahli dropped to a 9-4 mark, and they remained in third place.

Meanwhile, Muharraq rose to the top of the standings with a 91-81 win over Al Ettihad in yesterday's other game at Zain Basketball Arena in Um Al Hassam.

Muharraq were once again spearheaded by their newly signed professional Ira Clark, along with their strong cast of local talent.

Muharraq claimed a league-best 11th win, while Ettihad suffered a ninth defeat as they stayed rock bottom.

In Hala's nail-biting triumph, the victors took a narrow 23-20 lead at the end of the opening quarter, which they maintained for a 39-37 edge at the half.

Ahli battled back in the third period and took a 49-44 lead on a Jameel charity shot, but a Simpson three-point play sparked a 9-0 run that helped Hala go ahead 53-52 lead heading into the final quarter.

It was a see-saw affair then on. Ahli's US import Michael Bell had a fast-break lay-up and was fouled to make it 61-60 with two-and-a-half minutes remaining, and after the scores were tied at 62, Jameel made a triple to put Ahli ahead 65-62.

Malallah replied with his own long-range bomb to tie it once more at 65-apiece, paving the way for another Jameel three, which was then answered by Jawadi's crucial shot in the game's closing seconds.

Bell led Ahli with 24 points as Jameel added 21 and court general Hussain Shaker chipped in with eight.

League action continues tonight with Manama taking on Nuwaidrat at 5.30pm, followed by Sitra facing Isa Town at 7.15pm.

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Apr 28, 2011
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