This season had the potential to be great for Ikhlas as they surprised many with some of their highly skilled young players. We saw glimpses all season of what they could achieve, but they rarely all played on the court at the same time. The safe assumption would be that this would all change once playoffs began, as the commitment by these players would be assured. Unfortunately, in what was a surely disappointing realization for their teammates, Andrew and Junior were unable to attend their teamís 1st round playoff game.
|This is why the game isnít won on paper
||Jun 9, 2008
In our preview we had stated that Kursi won the regular season match-up by a 64-61 final score in a game that went down to the wire. Junior McLeod of Ikhlas finished with 42 points but did not get much help from the rest of his team, which was the key. Kursi was salivating at the fact that this game just got that much easier for them without even Junior present. It was enough to even get I-Slam veteran and fellow organizer Zuhair Fancy revitalized; in fact he managed to score 2 straight lay-ups to help his team sprint to an 8-3 lead with 17:00 left in the half. One advantage of not having Andrew or Junior was that their teammates would have this final opportunity this season to show they could contribute. They certainly werenít shy this game, but team captain Akhtar Rana stood out for them; at one point in the first half, he scored 5 straight points to cut Kursiís lead to 12-10 with 13:30 left in the half. In the end, the halftime score was 22-16 for Kursi, surely a disappointment for the latter who assumed they would blow this game open from the start. Kursi was lead by Thiaís 10 points and 8 rebounds while Ikhlas was lead by Akhtarís 7 points.
The second half started off similarly with Kursi unable to just put Ikhlas away, as they managed to linger within striking distance. With 12:13 remaining in the game, Kursi was up only 32-25. The difference in this half however was that Thia was exerting himself even more, and Ikhlas just had no answer for him. Ikhlas being unable to hit from the outside (3-17 from behind the 3-point line) didnít help their cause at all, nor the inability of their best player on the court and floor leader Jawwad Butt being able to get on the scoreboard (though he was doing his best to get his teammates involved with drives and passes; it was on them to convert). In the end Kursi won relatively easily 48-32 behind a monster game by Thia (28 points, 17 rebounds, and 5 blocks) and will face the #1 seed Nas next week.