Al-Fil only lost one game in the regular season and it was to Nasr so everyone knew that this was shaping up to be a great championship game. Al-Fil showed up without centre Abdullah Abda who would be hard to replace in the middle while Nasr was without Hasham Butt who has had a strong season and Usman Chaudhry who injured his ankle the day before.
|Al-Fil pulls a win out at the buzzer for a Championship
||Feb 4, 2008
The game started with both teams playing back and forth. Nasr was getting a strong start from Ibrahim Tiayumi who was crashing the boards hard and playing great defense. After 10 minutes of play, Nasr was up 11-10 with Tiayumi getting 5 of his teamsí points. Al-Fil got a boost from Rameez Ahmed who drilled back to back 3-pointers to give his team a temporary lead. At the end of the first half, Nasr was up by a 23-21 score. Tiayumi led Nasr with 9 points while Al-Fil was led by Ahmed with 8 points.
The second half saw the teams continue to keep the score close as neither was able to make a run. Al-Fil started to pick up some silly fouls caused by poor communication on the defensive end and unnecessary reach-ins. This saw Al-Fil have Jeff Roulston and Hadi Yousufi playing with four fouls each with 13 minutes left in the game and the Nasr leading by a 32-31 score.
With 10 minutes left in the game Nasr had added to their lead as it was now 35-31 and they were beginning to play more aggressive knowing that Al-Fil was in foul trouble. With eight minutes left in the game the wheels seemed to fall off for Al-Fil as Roulston picked up a technical while arguing from the bench and was ejected. Despite having been given a warning by the refs to stop complaining, Roulston seemed overcome by his intensity and picked up a technical that cost his team an offensive possession, gave Nasr two free throws and the ball. Al-Fil tried to calm their teammate down which only wasted their opportunity to try and regroup. Al-Fil was now left with no subs and Yousufi was forced to play the rest of the game with four fouls and hoping not to foul out and leave his team playing shorthanded.
Yet when it seemed that Al-Fil was down for the count they managed to pull themselves together and make a run as they were carried by Yousufi who hit some big shots and led Al-Fil to tie the score at 40 all with 4:10 left to play. Al-Fil managed to get a 42-40 lead with 3:50 left as Nasr started to struggle with their shots. Ibrahim Baig hit a short jumper and Nasr was able to force a turnover that led to another basket and got them a 44-42 lead with 2:45 left.
Al-Fil fought back and tied the game up at 46 all with 90 seconds left in the game. Nasr was able to score a quick basket on their next possession to give them a 48-46 lead. Al-Fil pushed the ball up-court and found Yousufi who hit a 3-pointer with a defender in his face to give Al-Fil a 49-48 lead with 59 seconds left. Nasr was unable to score on their next possession as Yousufi ran back to block a lay-up attempt; Nasr retained possession and ended up forcing a jump shot which led to Al-Fil pushing the ball up-court to Yousufi who scored a quick transition lay-up to give Al-Fil a 51-48 lead. This forced Nasr to call a timeout with 35 second left and down 51-48. Nasr set up a play but missed their shot and Al-Fil grabbed the rebound and called a quick timeout with 20 seconds left and still leading 51-48.
Al-Fil set up their inbound play and got the ball into Paul Medley who was fouled right away, Nasr was over the foul limit so Medley was sent to the line in a single bonus situation. Medley hit the first shot to give Al-Fil a 52-48 lead but missed the second which was grabbed by Nasr and pushed up the floor where they found Hakim Osman open in the corner who drained a 3-pointer to make it a 52-51 game. Al-Fil in bounded the ball to Medley who was fouled to stop the clock with 10 seconds left in a Single Bonus situation.
Medley missed the front end of the single bonus and Nasr grabbed the rebound and called timeout with eight seconds left and down 52-51. Nasr came up with a play but Al-Filís defensive pressure was enough to disrupt the original play and forced Tiayumi to put up a contested shot at the buzzer that rimmed out. Al-Fil won by a 52-51 final score in a thrilling finish to take the East Championship.
Al-Fil was led by Yousufi with 16 points and some clutch shots down the stretch. Greg Hamilton finished with 15 points while Ahmed added 11 points. Nasr was led by Osman with 19 points while Tiayumi finished with 13 points.
Both teams played a great game and Al-Fil overcame added pressure created by being in foul trouble and having Roulston foul out leaving no substitutes. Nasr played a solid game but missed opportunities down the stretch and did not aggressively drive at Yousufi to try and get him out of the game.
Congratulations to both Nasr and Al-Fil on a great season and an amazing showing in the finals and a big congratulation to Al-Fil who is the East League Champions for the Fall 2007 season.