Final (1:00 PM-2:00 PM) Sunday, Jul 2, 2006
  1 2 T
Ikhlas (7-2-1) 32 37 69
Zilzal (8-2-0) 36 31 67

3 point BOMBS Jul 4, 2006
by Teepu Khawja  

To say 3-point shots played a part in this game would be an understatement. In total Ikhlas shot up 33 3-pt (16 from Sanel) attempts while Zilzal jacked 34 3-pt attempts (17 from Ammer). I couldnít even tell you if that is an I-Slam record or not because they are off the charts! This game was expected to be a high scoring one and it didnít disappoint. The only real questions were of stamina and how each teamís key players would hold up after playing their 2nd intense game of the day.

The 1st half set the tone as both teams played an outside game trying to establish the 3-pt shot and hit the big one for a huge lead. Unfortunately for both teams, they key gunners were misfiring for the most part, but the pace of the game allowed them to still get their points. The first half ended with Zilzal up 36-32 despite Ammer only hitting one 3-pt shot. Zilzal was lead at the half by Ammer with 15 points and Anish with 7 points. Ikhlas was lead by Mohamud with 9 points and Sherif with 10 points.

In the 2nd half the game continued at the same pace but observers knew that if shots started falling for one team, the other one would be a sitting duck. The shots began falling for Zilzal as Ammer hit his first 3 3-pt shots of the 2nd half and Neil managed to hit 3-5 from behind the 3-pt arc. Zilzal began pulling away but began to start playing unwisely; to the point the Zilzal big man Abul-Rehman Khan (Ark) shouted from the bench that there was plenty of time to play and that the lead could still be easily lost. Those words came back to haunt Ark as Ikhlas hung tough and managed to strike a balance with 2-pointers (13 of those baskets made) to make up for their missed 3ís. Zilzal on the other hand scored only THREE 2-point baskets in the 2nd half and only 4 free throws. This stat easily shows how the wheels fell off for Zilzal when it seemed they were going to build an insurmountable lead; once they had it, they didnít maintain it with easy 2-point baskets.

Despite the differences in play this game still came down to the wire. Try and follow this wild sequence: The game became tied at 64-64 with 3:15 left in the game on a basket by Ikhlasí Jamshaid Hashmi, followed by a Mohamud 2-pointer which put Ikhlas up 66-64. Zilzal didnít cave in though as Neil Sehra hit a clutch 3-pointer to put his team up one, 67-66. Ikhlas answered with a 2-pointer by Sherif that gave them the lead again at 68-67 with 00:30 seconds left. Zilzal had the ball again and managed to get Ark to the line for 2 FTs with 10.1 seconds left and his team down 1 point. Ark missed his first free throw, meaning the best he could do would be to put his team up by one point.

Ikhlas decided to try their luck and capitalize upon the stressful situation by calling a timeout and possibly ice-ing Ark at the line. The ploy by Ikhlas paid off as Ark inexplicably air balled the free throw, returning the ball to Ikhlas and maintaining their 1-point lead. Ammer immediately fouled Sanel who only managed to hit one of his two free throws giving Ikhlas a still vulnerable 2-point lead with 6.8 seconds left after Zilzal called timeout. Ammer missed a 3-pointer but Neil managed to get the rebound and put up a running floater from the free throw line which just missed at the buzzer.

Unfortunately for Zilzal, they were unable to match Sherifís buzzer beating theatrics from earlier in the day. Overall it was a great day for Ikhlas; no doubt Tarek Shehata is glad that these games werenít being videotaped so that he wouldnít be forced to watch his brotherís exploits over and over and over again :)

I-Slam would like to congratulate not only Ikhlas but all teams in the West for a great season and for providing months of brotherly entertainment and some great individual performances.