Final (11:00 AM-12:00 PM) Sunday, Jun 24, 2007
  1 2 O T
Fatiha (7-2-1) 31 27 8 66
Ikhlas (8-1-0) 19 39 4 62

Fatiha gets OT win to advance to finals Jun 28, 2007
by Zuhair Fancy  

This was the 1st seed versus 2nd seed, this was Sherif Shehata playing against his former team, and this was a dynamic offensive team versus a strong defensive team. With so many angles to view this game from, there was great anticipation leading up to this semi-final playoff game. Both teams showed up with all their players available so this game was shaping up to be quite an affair. Ikhlas did make a mistake in that two players forgot their shirts resulting in four free throws for Fatiha to start the game (they hit 3 of 4).

It was Fatiha that started strong as Deklon Roberts slashed through the Ikhlas defense for some quick buckets. With Fatiha aggressively attacking the basket, the Ikhlas defense seemed to be bending under pressure and led to some quick fouls. After five minutes, Fatiha had built a 16-8 lead and seemed to be in control. Ikhlas did not seem to be able to get much working offensively as they seemed to settle for quick shots or did not move the ball around to find the open shot. Too add to the problems for Ikhlas, centre Jason Stephens picked up his third foul with 9:40 left in the half and was forced to the bench. After 10 minutes of play, Fatiha had managed to build a 21-8 lead and were cruising. Ikhlas finally got back on the scoreboard when Sanel Sehic split a pair of free throws to make it a 21-9 game with 7:21 left in the half, breaking the Ikhlas scoring drought of nearly 8 minutes. The struggles continued for Ikhlas and after Darko Trifunovic picked up a technical for arguing at the 5:23 mark, his team quickly called a timeout as Fatiha was now up-25-11. Fatiha seemed to be in cruise control and up 31-15 when Vik Singh picked up a technical for swearing, Ikhlas hit both free throws and got a quick basket to make it a 31-19 game going into halftime.

Roberts led Fatiha with 10 points while Shehata pitched in with 9 points and 4 steals. Fatiha also got a nice boost from Teepu Khawja with 8 points. Ikhlas was led by Trifunovic with 8 points and 5 rebounds.

The second half started with Ikhlas flying as they quickly put points up on the board and after Sehic drilled a long three pointer, Fatiha’s lead was cut to 31-26 with 17:10 left to play. Yet despite the Ikhlas run, Fatiha clamped down and built a 10 point lead at 41-31 again when Mark Dewairy drove the lane hard and was fouled after his lay-up. After hitting his free throw for the three point play, Fatiha had a 44-31 lead and more importantly Stephens picked up his fourth foul and was forced to the bench yet again. Fatiha was also getting a surreal shooting performance from Khawja who was continuously left open in the corners where he kept knocking down open three-point shots. Ikhlas tried to chip away but seemed to be getting frustrated and resulted in Sehic losing his cool and picking up a technical with 6:01 left and his team down 55-45. This loss of composure seemed to be hitting both teams as after picking up a foul, Mike Jacobs said the wrong thing and picked up a technical foul with 3:51 left giving him four fouls. Trifunovic converted the free throws to make it a 58-51 game and give his team a chance. Stephens fouled out with 2:01 left and left a big whole for Ikhlas to fill. Ikhlas continued to battle and got the score differential within five points to make it a stop-clock game. The final two minutes of regulation were a back and forth affair with clutch plays and missed free throws being the story.

Mohammed Nur was fouled driving the lane and went to the line in a single bonus situation where he hit both shots to make it a 58-55 game. Ikhlas quickly brought the ball back up-court and as they moved the ball around to eat time on the clock, had Jacobs fouled with 1:15 left in a single bonus situation. Jacobs missed his first shot and Ikhlas quickly moved the ball and got Sehic a lay-up to make it a 58-57 game with 1:01 left. Fatiha tried to catch the Ikhlas defenders in transition and had Roberts draw a shooting foul but he missed both free throws and giving Ikhlas a chance to take the lead. Nur was fouled with 38.1 seconds left and hit his first shot to tie the game at 58 but missed the second shot that would have given Ikhlas the lead. Fatiha got the ball into the hands of Jacobs who was fouled and had an opportunity to put his team back on top but he missed the front end of a single bonus and Trifunovic grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 36 seconds left. Trifunovic missed his single bonus shot and after Jacobs grabbed the rebound, Fatiha called a timeout with 26.9 seconds left and the game tied at 58. Fatiha set up their play and it was clear that they wanted to take the final shot of the game as they moved the ball around the perimetre before Shehata took a contested shot that rimmed out and sent the game into overtime.

Overtime started slow as Trifunovic won the tip-off but neither team was able to put any points on the board until Shehata knocked down a three-pointer with 1:31 left to give Fatiha a 61-58 lead. Trifunovic came right back and completed a lay-up while being fouled but was unable to hit his free throw making it a 61-60 game. Jacobs then got his chance at the line as he was fouled in a double bonus situation where he split this pair of shots to give Fatiha a 62-60 lead. Ikhlas turned the ball over on their next possession and were forced to foul Jacobs again who hit both his free throws this time for a 64-60 lead. Sehic responded with a quick drive where he was fouled and hit both his shots for a 64-62 score. Fatiha tried to move the ball quickly to eat clock and had Khawja go to the line where he split his shots for a 65-62 lead. Fatiha managed to grab the rebound off the second shot as Shehata outworked his defender to get the rebound and was fouled. Shehata split his free throws to give Fatiha a 66-62 lead. Ikhlas called a timeout with 19 seconds left to set their plays for the rest of the game as they were now in a two possession game. Whatever the plan was it was broken up by a great defensive effort from Jacobs who intercepted a pass and sent Roberts for a lay-up where he was fouled. Roberts missed both his free throws but Ikhlas was out of time as the game ended with Fatiha winning 66-62.

Trifunovic led all scorers with 21 points and 14 rebounds while Sehic finished with 16 points and Arselan Jamil added 14 points. Fatiha was led by Khawja with 20 points, including 4 of 5 from the three-point area. Shehata finished with 13 points, 7 rebounds and 5 steals. Roberts finished with 12 points while Jacobs finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 4 steals.

Both teams played well in this game but it was the experience and strong team defence that helped Fatiha come away with the win. Fatiha did overcome poor free throw shooting that could have put this game out of reach in the final minutes of regulation. As a team they were 16 for 28 from the line which includes 5 for 11 in overtime and there were multiple missed free throws that were the front end of a single bonus situation.

Fatiha moves on to the finals to face Zilzal who won their semi-final game against Asr.