US Monastir became the third team to advance to the Basketball Africa League (BAL) semi-final on Thursday after beating AS Douanes 86-62. Still, the team’s leading scorer Majoc James wasn’t impressed by the performance.
The Tunisian champions improved to 4-0 ahead of the next round, while AS Douanes not only registered its third straight defeat but saw its BAL journey come to an end.
James propelled US Monastir with a game-high 17 points on a 6-for-8 shooting along with six rebounds. Three other US Monastir players, Christopher Crawford, Radhouane Slimane and Makrem Ben Romdhane, combined for 47 points.
James later admitted that allowing AS Douanes easy points was a concern for a team with BAL title aspirations.
“Congrats to the Senegalese team for making it this far. They fought hard. I am happy with guys, we won the game. But we’ve got a lot of things that we have to work on,” James said.
The Senegalese team displayed a tremendously aggressive defense early in the game that forced US Monastir to miss its first seven three-point attempts.
And when Mamadou Faye came off the bench, things looked even more promising for AS Douanes.
Faye buried his first three shot attempts, including one that helped his team cut a nine-point deficit to just three points (19-16) at the end of the opening quarter.
But US Monastir’s intensity prevented the Senegalese outfit from getting into a good rhythm offensively, head coach Mamadou Gueye later admitted. The team instead relied on individual plays, which initially kept them in the game.
“It was a learning experience for us,” Gueye said. “US Monastir is one of the best teams in the BAL.”
Early in the second quarter, the Tunisians went on a 7-0 run and AS Douanes never challenged after that.
The Monastir-based team stretched its lead to 16 points in the second quarter, and James, Slimane, Ben Romdhane and company headed into the locker room holding a 48-34 lead.
James explained that being careless with the ball wasn’t much of an issue, but they must cut down on turnovers.
“We had 17 turnovers, going to the final four. That’s going to be a problem,” he said.
“We got to take care of the ball. We need to get more angry. The anger we showed today is not enough. I watched Zamalek and the Angolan team [Petro de Luanda], they were more angry playing yesterday. That’s not acceptable. We need to go back and have a conversation about how bad we want it as a team because we need display it on our next game.”
US Monastir head coach Mounir Ben Slimane admitted that AS Douanes’ successful drives to the basket can’t be allowed going forward. “We have to stop those penetrations,” he said.
In the semi-finals, US Monastir will face the winner of the quarterfinal game between Ferroviario de Maputo and host team Patriots BBC.