To try and stop FAP’s guard Amadou Harouna was out of the question for AS Police.
But to rally from a 21-point half-time deficit (53-32) was feasible.
So much so, that AS Police closed the gap to seven points (60-53) in the third quarter, but FAP readjusted in time, and things were never the same for the Malian team who closed its Group B run without a single win in three attempts.
Harouna got his fourth foul late in the third, but he didn’t even need to return to the floor for the last ten minutes as the damaged he caused to AS Police was already done.
The 6’4” point guard paced FAP with a team-high 16 points on a 4-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc as the Cameroonian team edged AS Police 87-65 for its first BAL victory.
“Those guys are highly-experienced, and we lacked experienced when we needed it most,” AS Police’s Ibrahima Thomas admitted.
Cameroon international player Mohaman Nkene Tsance was crucial, helping FAP with his 12 points and 12 rebounds – his first BAL double-double - and Mathew Hezekiah scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Yaounde-based team in a game that marked the end of the group phase campaign for FAP (1-2) and AS Police (0-3).
Senegal international player Ibrahima Thomas recorded his first BAL double-double with 22 points and 17 rebounds, but he later expressed his frustration for being unable to help AS Police moved on the quarter-finals.
“If you watch the tape of FAP against Petro [Luanda] and AS Sale, you will notice that they play extremely hard for 40 minutes,” he said.
Nigerian-American Joseph Nzeakor, who averaged AS Police team-high 24.5 points in the first two games, spent just 26 seconds on the bench to finish with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
And, Ibrahima Haidara, who played a major role in the BAL qualifying campaign where he led AS Police with a team-best 17 points per game, contributed just three points in Sunday’s loss, and, as a result, concluded his BAL campaign with an average of five points per game.
“I could have done better than this,” he admitted.
“Playing the qualifying round isn’t the same thing as playing the actual BAL. Here [at BAL] you find experienced teams, experienced players and highly talented players. It’s different [from the BAL qualifying]. All in all, it’s been a great experience for me as a player and also for some of our young players.”
* Numbers don’t lie:*
AS Police’s offense game plan was almost non-existent in the fourth quarter and allowing FAP to go on a 21-12 run in that stretch of the game didn’t help them.