Final (12:00 PM-1:00 PM) Saturday, Jan 27, 2007
  1 2 T
Al-Jumah (3-4-0) 19 26 45
Quraysh (3-4-0) 27 21 48

Confronting your demons Jan 29, 2007
by Teepu Khawja  

The last time these 2 teams played, it was definitely an eye opener, and a turning point. Al-Jumah was embarrassed by a score of 82-37 (a 45 point beating!) and saw their record fall to 0-3 and their team sink to the bottom of the standings. However, this game seemed to be their turning point as they rang off 3 straight wins to finish the regular season 3-3 and in 3rd place in the division, ahead of their tormentors Quraysh who finished in last place due to head-to-head results.

Despite their recent success, only Al-Jumah players knew if they could mentally overcome the beating they received previously. Quraysh definitely showed up confident and ready to move onto the next round. However, 2 key differences between now and their last meeting were that Al-Jumah's star player Fahad Khan was present, and Quraysh had no bench to look towards for help.

The 1st half didn't start off well for Al-Jumah as their play was sloppy with turnovers or drives that resulted in neither calls nor buckets. Early in the half, Quraysh was lead by an aggressive Shuaib Yusuf and then later in the half was carried by Abdirahman Yusuf. Early on Shuaib found himself left open from long range and drilled his first two 3-pointers. Al-Jumah was doing its best to stay in the game by riding on Fahad's shoulders but they found themselves having to call a timeout at the 12:18 mark of the 1st half down 18-11 and feeling the game slipping away. After the timeout, Fahad tried to keep his team in the game, but his initially hot shooting (2-4 from behind the arc) began to cool down and Al-Jumah trailed 27-19 at halftime, despite Fahad scoring 13 of their 19 points. Awhile back, this difference may have been considered a partial victory by Al-Jumah against Quraysh, but after their taste of recent success, it was unacceptable.

The 2nd half saw Al-Jumah spread the ball more and get other teammates on the scoreboard. Defensively, they focused in on the players that had hurt them in the 1st half, specifically Shuaib and Abdirahman who only scored 5 points between them. Al-Jumah was also helped by the fact that Fahad decided to capitalize on his athleticism and take the ball to the hole more often, as he only attempted one 3-pointer in the 2nd half. However, even with these positives, Al-Jumah was forced to call a timeout at the 15:01 mark down 41-35. The reason? Quraysh's Suleiman had suddenly woken up in the 2nd half. He was aggressive and drove to the basket often; perhaps most frustrating to Al-Jumah (as well as spectators) was their inability to stop (or even recognize) his repeated drives in the same direction along the baseline. They just wouldn't step in his way and take the baseline away from him! Suleiman more than matched Fahad's offence, as he scored 14 points and 6 rebs in the 2nd half alone!

Though the score was close, the game seemed to have been decided with more than a few minutes left as the energy had been visibly sapped from Al-Jumah and they just couldn't get over the hump and regain the lead in the 2nd half. The game ended with Quraysh winning 48-45. Al-Jumah will have to wait until next season to continue to improve and show their game, while Quraysh moves on to play Ash-Shams.