In our playoff preview of this game we said Kursi would require a HUGE game from in order to beat Nas who had whipped them 67-25 in the regular season. If Kursi even wanted to dream of becoming a road bump on Nas’ champion quest, they would need Thia, Maher, and even yes, Zuhair to be on their offensive game. In the regular season game, not one Kursi player cracked double digit points (though Thia did snatch 19 rebounds). Kursi would especially have to make sure to establish Thia at the offensive end to hopefully get Nas' Khalid and Ahmed and Mahmood in foul trouble.
|Underwhelming in Defeat
||Jun 16, 2008
On an interesting side note, I had mentioned that some players from Nas had been looking forward to this rematch to get a second chance at playing against I-Slam organizer Zuhair Fancy, and author of many of Nas' recaps, who was mysteriously absent form the regular season game due to "other commitments". Well fair is fair, and may I point out that when the lights were on at their brightest on the playoff stage, Zuhair was present but it was Nas’ Umair Jabbar that was suddenly absent for “other commitments”.
Nas did not begin the game on a good note as 2 of their starters, Ahmed and Uzair, arrived without their team shirts, giving Kursi 4 free throws and possession. Thia managed to hit 3 of the 4 free throws to give his team an early 3-0 lead. After that “offensive barrage” this game went silent other than whistles due to hacking. With 9:30 left to play in the half, Kursi got called for their 6th team foul, putting Nas at the line for the remainder of the half. At this point, Kursi was trailing 9-3 (I don’t which is worse, that 10:30 minute had past without Kursi scoring a point since Thia hit 3 technical free throws, or Nas only having 9 points at this stage). Thia finally managed to get his team’s first basket with 7:15 left and his team now down 12-5; definitely a moral victory for Kursi. Give Kursi credit though because they were trying to get Khalid in foul trouble, and managed to get him to pick up his 3rd at the halftime buzzer, giving Thia two more free throws which he hit to bring his team within 19-13. Nas was lead by Khalid’s 10 points while Kursi was lead by Thia’s 14 points (9 of 10 free throws).
The 1st half may have been a moral victory for Kursi because the game was still within reach and neither Zuhair or Maher had scored yet, but the 2nd half was when the Nas team with championship aspirations decided to show up. Kursi started the half with a strong baseline drive by Zuhair on Khalid, indicating that Kursi realized that Khalid was in foul trouble and likely not interested in picking up his 4th foul so early in the half. However, after that point Kursi resorted (inexplicably) to jacking 3 pointers. Things got worse when Maher picked up his 4th foul with 14:00 to go and his team down 25-15. Kursi didn’t get another point until 6:30 remaining in the game on a Maher 3 (his only points of the game, 13 minutes after Zuhair’s drive to the basket). Predictably Kursi’s Aditya picked up his obligatory technical for excessive complaining and was tossed from the game (and likely future I-Slam competition for repeated violations and poor sportsmanship). Maher capped the game for his team by fouling out with 4:30 left in the game after giving up an And-1 to Nas’ Ahmed. The game ended with Nas winning 48-28 behind Khalid’s 19 points. Kursi was lead by Thia’s 18 points (at least this time one Kursi player cracked double digit points against Nas). Nas now advanced to the championship game they have been striving all season for. Hopefully Ahmed and Uzair remember their shirts this time around.