Final (11:00 AM-12:00 PM) Saturday, Jan 12, 2008
  1 2 T
Humazah (2-5-0) 22 21 43
Al-Masad (1-6-0) 23 22 45

It Ain’t Over Till it’s OVER Jan 16, 2008
by Ahsan Raza  

Playing a team that finished 0-6 in the first round of the playoffs is a walk in the park; all you have to do is show up and you’ll cruise to an easy victory. It seemed as if Humazah had taken this mentality heading into their game vs Al-Masad. Either they didn’t check the I-slam Schedule, or they might not have gotten the memo, but the Regular Season was over and the today was a PLAYOFF GAME. It was not an exhibition game, nor was it a regular season game, it was the playoffs. Another important point to note is that Al-Masad is not a team that should be underestimated. Despite going 0-6 in the season, they have a decent roster that has shown that when they play as a team, they certainly play well. They exemplified this very trait right off the bat, as they were giving Humazah an absolute beat down in the first half!

Adeel gave his team the quick lead as he opened up the game scoring 7 straight baskets. Offensively, Adeel was doing his part but what was more impressive was Al-Masad’s Defense. Hungry for a victory at any cost, this revamped team was an absolute menace on Defense. Hustling for loose balls, double teaming and trapping Humazah’s ball handlers, Al Masad was able to force countless turnovers. If turnovers were recorded for Humazah on the score sheet, we’d be running out of paper. Seriously. It wasn’t until the 7:30 mark of the first half when Humazah finally scored its first basket, courtesy of Saleh who decided to take matters into his own hands. Al-Masad continued to roll, as Adeel continued to stay hot hitting 3 three pointers alone in the first half. The ten minute mark had surpassed and Al Masad led 16-2! Give credit to Al Masad’s defense, as they were making it extremely tough for Saleh and his team to score points. At the 13:18 mark, Saleh again broke his team’s scoring slump by connecting on an acrobatic and-one lay up.

Saleh was the only scoring option, and to make matters worse, the rest of his team was able to get to the line but were unable to convert on their free throws. In total, Humazah went a dismal 3/10 from the line in the first half. Al-Masad led comfortably 24-9 heading into the break, being led by Adeel’s 17 first half points. Saleh scored 8 of the 9 points for his team in the first half.

If you thought the first half was exciting, the second half offered more stellar play and some off court Drama. It seemed as if Humazah finally checked the i-slam website during the half, and when looking at the schedule, they must’ve realized that this game was actually a playoff game! It sure seemed like it as they came out firing in the second half, while Al-Masad took a backseat. Humazah scored 6 straight buckets to cut the lead. At the 6:30 mark, Humazah was now down 21-28 after Shuaib’s drive to the basket. Right after the ensuing play, Adeel and Abdulkani began to jaw at each other, exchanging some pleasantry words. Both were given a technical and were also warned.

The Techincal foul was a huge break for Humazah, as Adeel now had 4 fouls with more than 10 minutes left to play in the half. 3 mins after the tech, Adeel committed the Jamario Moon foul, fouling Saleh on a 3 pt play. The X-Factor here was that Adeel was now fouled out of the game with 8 minutes left on the clock! Humazah could not have asked for anything more, as they tied the game 31-31 after Saleh connected on 2/3 free throws. The final 6 minutes of the game was an absolute treat, as both teams were possessed and neither team was about to go down without a fight.

After stealing the ball, Humazah now had possession and had the chance to take their first lead of the game. They succeeded, as Sulieman grabbed a huge offensive rebound and was fouled as he made the basket. Connecting on his free throw, as Humazah led 34-31. But Al- Masad came right back as Ahmed Rashwan sank a crucial shot right in the grill of Humazah to tie the game. Sulieman came right back after grabbing another offensive rebound and getting the putback. On the next drive, Ahmed was able to get to the line making 1 of 2 free throws. Al Masad was now down 35-36. After Humazah missed their layup on the next possession, Ziyad “Big Shot Bob” Rao connected from downtown, giving his team a 38-36 lead! But right on the next drive, Humazah’s Sulieman, who was uncontrollable on the Offensive Boards, grabbed another board and was again fouled while making the bucket. He connected on his free throw, as Humazah regained the lead at 39-38. But the Bank was open on a Saturday, because Ahmed scored on his bank shot giving the lead back to Al Masad 40-39.

After Al-Masad’s bank shot, Saleh came back with another ridiculous layup, giving Humazah the lead once more at 41-40. With 30 seconds remaining, Al-Masad called a timeout to design a play for none other than “Big Shot Bob” Rao. Following the timeout, Kadva found an open Rao, who connected again from downtown giving his team a 43-41 lead! But this game was far from over! Saleh was clutch on the next possession as he was fouled and was sent to the line. He calmly sank both free throws to tie the game 43-43. Al Masad called another timeout, and with only 9 seconds remaining, the ball was in bounded to Ahmed who was on fire in the second half.

With 2 seconds on the clock, Ahmed was being swarmed by Humazah’s defenders, and unable to see an open teammate, Ahmed put up a turnaround jump shot and sank the game winner right inside the 3 point line! Al Masad won their first game of the season, and would now advance to the next round! Both teams fought till the very end, but give Al-Masad credit for coming out on top while Adeel was fouled out for most of the second half. Adeel led the team with 21 pts for Al-Masad, but Ziyad and Ahmed were the X-Factors in the second half as they scored 8 and 9 points respectively, all in the second half. Humazah was led by Saleh’s 19 pts and 10 rebounds, and they also got strong play from Sulieman who went for 12 pts and 12 rebounds. Al-Masad will now face Duha in the second round, and will look to spark an upset in this game.