Final (12:00 PM-1:00 PM) Sunday, Jun 22, 2008
  1 2 T
Al-Masad (8-1-0) 27 20 47
Ash-Shams (5-5-0) 20 21 41

Al-Masad Fends Off Late Rush Jun 22, 2008
by Kashif Taqiuddin  

Both teams came prepared and inspired for this match. Donovan Gayle also decided to show up and grace his team with his presence. The only question was which Gayle were we going to see today? Hopefully it will be the inspired Gayle of the past.

Mohamed Khalief and Humza Chaudhry would both be assessed technicals to start this game as they failed to bring their jerseys. Mohammed Sayeed would hit 3 of 4 free throws to start his team up 3-0. Ash-Shams would drop another basket before Al-Masad would finally get on the board. Despite the quick start both teams would teams would settle down and play some energized ball. Every attack was a drive to the rim. Ahsan Raza and Amer Malik would capitalize on their opportunities for Ash-Shams while Ibrahim Baig was often finishing his open drives through the lane. Even though Raza was cleaning up on the board his team would fail to score some baskets allowing Al-Masad to chip away at the lead. Ibrahim Tiamiyu would finish the comeback as he would score a basket and get fouled on the play. The bonus shot would put his team up for the first time 13-12. Mahamed Hassan would extend that lead to 4 as he would drain a 3-pointer.

It would be Mohammed Sayeed that would bring his team back. He was playing with a hot hand and inspired ball. Sayeed would nail a jumper and score 3 of 4 free throws to bring Ash-Shams back up 18-17. Tiamiyu would restore the lead with a jumper. Misfortune would strike Ash-Shams as Amer Malik would land awkwardly and injure his ankle. That's when Al-Masad would turn up the gas. Hassan would extend the lead to 25-18 with a sequence that would include a 3-pointer, a steal, a dish to a teammate, rebound and a put back. Hassan was on fire! Ibrahim Baig would extend that lead with two free throws to 27-18. With a minute remaining in the half Malik would return to the game and hit a jumper to end Al-Masad's run. Abbas Alidina would blow an open lay up and the half would finish with Al-Masad leading 27-20.

The second half started slow... very slow. Both teams would manage just three baskets each for the first eight minutes. Hassan and Mohammed Khalief would both hit triples in that time for Al-Masad while Gayle would score from the free throw line and Amer Malik would also hit a triple. As the game continued Ash-Shams struggled to chip away at the lead. Ibrahim Baig would score a basket to extend their lead to a game high 10 points. Thatís when things would slowly turn around for Ash-Shams.

Malik and Gayle would turn their teamís fortunes around. Malik would hit a jumper and get fouled by Baig in the process. The bonus attempt would be successful. Soon after Gayle would manage to steal the ball on a few plays and Malik would finish off the drive. Just like that Ash-Shams had cut the lead to 39-34. That was enough for Al-Masad and they called a time-out with 7:42 remaining.

Following the time-out Malik would hit a layup and cut the lead to 39-36. Hassan would put at end to this threat as he would manage to steal the ball on consecutive plays. Hassan would dish the ball to Ibrahim Tiamiyu and he would end the fast break with an emphatic dunk to put his team up 43-36. Following an Al-Masad free throw, Malik would drain a trey and cut the lead to 44-39 brining the game to stop-time with 2:45 remaining.

Khalief would soon after earn a trip to the free throw line and drain both bonus attempts to extend the lead back by six points. With the clock running Gayle would manage to get to the line as well and drain both of his free throws and more importantly stop the clock with just a minute remaining. On the next drive Malik would manage to grab a rebound off Baigís errant shot and would promptly call a time-out with 0:50 remaining. Unfortunately Ash-Shams was unable to generate a quality play and would fail to cut further into the lead. They would have no choice but to foul Baig before he would run out the clock. Baig would calmly sink both free throws and extend the lead back to 7 and with the clock ticking Ash-Shams was force to hurry a play which resulted in a turnover and the end of the game. Al-Masad would stand victorious with a 48-41 finish.

League MVP Ibrahim Baig would finish with 18 points and 10 rebounds to claim his first Playoff MVP award. That was not the only thing Baig would earn for the first time. After 13 seasons of playing I-Slam Baig would finally earn a championship and get a medal draped around his neck. His teammates also played a super game around him and it they proved it throughout the season that they were the team to bring down. On a positive note was the return of Donovan Gayle who played a passionate game. The big man finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 4 steals. That may be a great stat line for many but for Gayle the end result was crushing. Malik also played a decent game for Ash-Shams scoring with 14 points while Sayeed and Raza were the only others on the team to manage to score.