Egyptian basketball champions Zamalek and Angola’s Petro de Luanda will face off in the Semi-finals of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) taking place here in Kigali, Rwanda.
Egyptian basketball champions Zamalek defeated Forces Armées et Police Basketball (FAP) of Cameroon 82:53 in a convincing quarterfinal tie.
Zamalek started slow and allowed FAP a 16-12 lead at the end of the first quarter before bouncing Egyptian side bounced back to win the subsequent quarters 18-12, 25-14, and 27-11.
American-Puerto Rican, Walter Wallace Hodge led Zamalek’s offensive, registering 18 points followed by Mohab Yasser Abdallatif, 18 – the youngest player in the inaugural BAL – with 14 points.
Agustin J. Bosch, Zamalek's head coach, admitted that his players were nervous coming into the game, which affected them.
“We were nervous (at the beginning) because it was an elimination game…but having nerves is also important for future games. That gave us the right approach and character coming back into the locker room (during the break) and helped us to win,” he said.
FAP’s guard Amadou Abdoulaye Harouna registered a game-high 21 points but it was not enough to propel the Cameroonians to victory.
Harouna was well known to be a threat and was targeted by Zamalek’s defence, particularly Mohab, who monitored every step he made on the court.
As a result, Harouna ended up making the maximum 5 fouls and was evicted in the early seconds of the fourth quarter, ending FAP’s hopes of progressing to the BAL semis.
FAP Coach Lazare Adien Ngono faulted his team’s exit in BAL to poor officiating decisions that went against his team and cost them a lot of points and the game.
“Nevertheless, this group of young players (FAP) has to be commended for all the hard work they have accomplished in this competition. They were here to represent and win but congratulations to Zamalek for the win,” he said.
In the late Wednesday tip-off, Angola’s Petro de Luanda completed a double on Morocco’s AS Sale by winning 72-79, in perhaps the most competitive BAL game thus far.
The game started on a high for Angola’s Petro, winning the first quarter 20-12, before AS Sale recovered to level the gave 23-23 at the break.
AS Sale won the third quarter 20-12 before Petro bounced back to win the final quarter 24-17.
Petro’s Shooting Guard, Gerson Goncalves 19 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assist made the difference for the Angolan side despite AS Sale’s MVP contender Terrel De Von Stoglin’s 30 points exploits.
The Head Coach of AS Sale, Said El Bouzidi, acknowledged that “Petro deserved to in the semi-finals.”
Bouzidi told journalists in the post-game pressed that his team, “tried everything to win but the better team won.”
According to Bouzidi, there was a lack of concentration towards the end of the game which cost AS Salé the game, also adding that having a weaker bench compared to Petro’s made a bigger difference.
Petro’s bench recorded 30 points compared to 12 points by AS Sale’s bench.
Petro’s head coach José Neto said, “We played as a team but had some drop moments. But I think we played with great defence and we were efficient on the offensive.”
Petro de Luanda will have to cut down on turnovers (24) and a drop in concentration if they are to overcome Zamalek in the Semi-Finals of the BAL, said Petro’s point guard Carlos Morais.