Zamalek with face-off with US Monastir in the BAL semifinals on May 25
KIGALI, Rwanda, May 23, 2022/ — Tunisia’s U.S. Monastir defeated South Africa’s Cape Town Tigers 106-67; Egypt’s Zamalek defeated Guinea’s SLAC 66-49.
Quarterfinal Game 3 Recap: U.S. Monastir vs. Cape Town Tigers
The 2022 Basketball Africa League Playoffs continued on Sunday with a quarterfinal matchup between Tunisia’s US Monastir, which advanced to playoffs after going 4-1 during the Sahara Conference group phase, against South Africa’s Cape Town Tigers, which is making its BAL Playoffs debut after advancing to the playoffs with a 2-3 record in the Nile Conference group phase.
The game started with each team trading three pointers as U.S. Monastir captain Radhouane Slimane hit the opening shot followed by a three-point answer from former NBA player and Cape Town newcomer Cleanthony Early. Michael Dixon’s three point shot four minutes in put Monastir up 10-5 before a dunk by Billy Preston and a steal turned into a fast break layup by Myck Kabongo brought the Tigers within one point of the lead halfway through the first quarter.
The teams traded scores for the remainder of the quarter before Monastir’s Mokhtar Ghayaza hit a layup at the buzzer to give his team a 22-18 lead after one quarter of play. Cape Town’s Early led all scorers with seven first quarter points, while Monastir big men Ghayaza and Slimane chipped in six points each.
A 9-2 run by Monastir to start the second quarter, which featured scores from Ater Majok, Dixon, Souleyman Diabate and Ghayaza, put Monastir up 11 to take its largest lead of the game. But an and-1 finish by Billy Preston off the dish from Early followed by a Preston three pointer on the next possession ended Cape Town’s scoring drought and brought the Tigers to within five.
Ghayaza found a cutting Firas Lahyani who finished with a dunk to put Monastir up nine points with three minutes to go in the half. Preston’s proficient scoring, which resulted in 12 first half points on 5/8 shooting, kept the Tigers within striking distance but the all-around play of Ghayaza, who recorded 10 points, seven boards and an assist, helped Monastir maintain a comfortable lead throughout the second quarter entering halftime up 44-33. The up-tempo gameplay led to 16 combined turnovers in the half as both teams looked to push the pace early.
Cape Town Captain Peter Prinsloo hit two threes to start the half, but Majok answered with a basket and an assist to Lahyani to extend Monastir’s lead to 12 three minutes into the half. A three pointer by Dixon followed by a layup by Slimane pushed Monastir’s lead to 15. Both teams caught fire from deep, making a combined 10 three pointers in the third quarter which was more than the previous two combined. Monastir maintained its double-digit lead heading into the final quarter up 71-59.
Dixon’s hot hand carried into the fourth quarter and Monastir didn’t look back as they held the Tigers scoreless for the first four minutes of the quarter, extending their lead to 23 en route to a 106-67 victory. Monastir had five players score in double figures led by Dixon who scored a game-high 23 points. Slimane turned in 16 points, six rebounds and five assists, Diabate recorded 13 points and five assists, Ghayaza chipped in 13 points and nine rebounds, and Lahyani recorded 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Preston (17 points; four rebounds), Early (15 points) and Prinsloo (14 points; eight rebounds) led the way for Cape Town.
Monastir advances to the BAL Playoff Semifinals on May 25. Full stats can be found here (https://bit.ly/38Ou3rM).
Quarterfinal Game 4 Recap: Zamalek vs. S.L.A.C.
The final quarterfinal game of the 2022 BAL Playoffs featured defending BAL Champion Zamalek, which enters the game on an 11-game winning streak in the BAL after winning all five of its games during the Nile Conference group phase, against Guinea’s S.L.A.C, which went 2-3 during the Sahara Conference group phase.
Eslam Salem Mohamed got things started with the first bucket of the game and Serigne Saliou Mbaye, a member of the NBA Academy Africa who is playing with SLAC as part of the BAL Elevate program, responded with SLAC’s first bucket.
An Edgar Sosa three ignited a 9-0 run to give Zamalek an 11-2 lead halfway through the opening quarter. SLAC’s Oumar Barry answered with seven straight points to bring his team within two before former NBA Academy Africa player Mohab Yasser ended Zamalek’s scoring drought with a two-point basket. Zamalek’s aggressive and active defense was the difference early, forcing five turnovers in the first five minutes, but SLAC responded to finish the quarter down just 11-13 thanks in large part to Mohamed Keita, who recorded three first quarter blocks and anchored a SLAC defense that held Zamalek to just 25% shooting from the field.
The strong defense on both sides continued as just four total points were scored in the first four minutes of the second quarter, but two consecutive scores by SLAC brought them within two points of the defending BAL defending champion halfway through the second quarter. Zamalek responded with 14-0 run, including nine points by former NBA player DJ Strawberry Jr. to extend its lead to 30-15. SLAC scored six straight points before Zamalek’s Strawberry hit a running three pointer at the buzzer to go into halftime up 33-21.
Moustafa Elmekawi set the pace for Zamalek coming out of the half by scoring six of his team’s first eight points in the third quarter, but SLAC’s Keita responded with six of his own points to cut the deficit back to 12 with four minutes left in the quarter. A put back from Mohab Yasser followed by a three pointer from Ahmed Yasser put Zamalek up 17, marking its largest lead of the game to close the third quarter up 53-36.
Zamalek maintained its double-digit lead throughout the fourth quarter en route to a 66-49 victory. Moustafa Elmekawi turned in a 14-point, 12-rebound double-double, while Edgar Sosa and DJ Strawberry contributed 13 points and 12 points, respectively. Oumar Barry (13 points; 12 rebounds), Dane Anthony Miller (11 points; 14 rebounds; four assists) and Mohamed Keita (12 points; eight rebounds) led the way for SLAC. Full stats can be found here (https://bit.ly/3lxRlFe).
Zamalek with face-off with US Monastir in the BAL semifinals on May 25.