PHOTOS: BAL 2024: FUS Rabat stun holders Al Ahly SC in classification round

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PHOTOS: BAL 2024: FUS Rabat stun holders Al Ahly SC in classification round
PHOTOS: BAL 2024: FUS Rabat stun holders Al Ahly SC in classification round

Africa-Press – Rwanda. Friday, May 24

Al Ahly Ly 87-76 Cape Town Tigers

FUS Rabat 89-78 Al Ahly SC

Morocco’s FUS de Rabat sent a statement of their Basketball Africa League (BAL) intentions by beating reigning champions Al Ahly SC 89-78 in Friday night’s classification round game.

The BK Arena was full capacity, with President Paul Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame also in attendance.

The winners of the 2024 Kalahari Conference became the second team this season – after City Oilers – to beat the 2023 BAL champions.

BAL 2023 Defensive Player of the Year Aliou Diarra recorded his third double-double of the season, finishing with game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds to help the Moroccan champions set a quarter-final date with South African side Cape Town Tigers.

Mark Lyons led Al Ahly SC with a team-high of 20 points, Patrick Gardner added 12 while Tony Mitchell Jr and Ehab Amin contributed 11 points apiece in the losing cause.

Rabat needed to come up with a meticulous plan to deny one of this season’s title contenders. They were trailing 58-64 behind Al Ahly in the third quarter but pulled off as stunning comeback register the win the crunch game with an 11-point lead.

Al Ahly SC head coach Agusti Bosch found in Gardner what his team lacked in the opening quarter when they trailed 22-19.

The left-handed forward came off the bench, shooting 5-for-7 in the second quarter to propel the reigning champions to a comeback.

Gardner finished the half as Ah Ahly SC leading scorer with 12 points, although he didn’t score again in the second half.

Rabat trailed 49-41 at the break after allowing 7 three-pointers in the first half.

Coach Said El Bouzidi had to come up with answers for Gardner’s scoring spree and, more importantly, they needed to limit Al Ahly SC’s three-point prowess.

Rabat’s aggressiveness forced Al Ahly SC to an abysmal 2-for-17 shooting from behind the arc in the second half.

But it was FUS Rabat’s 10-0 run to start the fourth quarter that changed the dynamic of the game.

Yacine Baeri and Jonathan buried one three-pointer apiece to help FUS Rabat take their first and decisive lead in the second half, and they never trailed again.

Rabat’s small forward Ayoub Nouhi, who contributed 7 points, urged his teammates to keep their feet on the ground.

Meanwhile, Libyan champions, Al Ahly Ly rallied to an 87-76 win over South Africa’s Cape Town Tigers in the opening game of the BAL playoffs.

Cape Town Tigers return to action on Sunday to take on the winner of the game between Al Ahly SC and FUS Rabat while Al Ahly Ly will go up against the losing team of the same game (Al Ahly SC).

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