Former African champions Zamalek on Saturday outscored Petro de Luanda 89-71 to become the first team to reach the Basketball Africa League (BAL) Final.
Tied at 24 after the opening quarter, Zamalek opened up a 55-39 halftime lead over Petro de Luanda
Allowing these many points in the opening quarter, Zamalek head coach Agusti Julbe, said “That’s something that we shouldn’t accept as a team. We talked about it, and we turned things around.”
Petro de Luanda’s duo of Jone Pedro and Carlos Morais finished the first quarter with eight points each, but neither scored again until late in the third quarter.
The Egyptians who limited their first four opponents to 58.5 points per game were dominant on both ends of the floor.
Walter Hodge paced the Egyptian team with a game-high 19 points on a 6-for-12 shooting, but reserves Souleyman Diabate, Michael Fakuade and Chinemelu Elonu proved vital once again for the winners of the 1992 FIBA Africa Champions Cup.The trio of players who was signed exclusively for the BAL, but won’t return in the Egyptian League after the BAL – due to the limited number of import players – combined for 38 points off the bench.
Diabate was 4-for-7 from the field, adding 12 points; Fakuade buried two of his three-point attempts in the second quarter to finish with 16 points and Elonu added 10 points on 5-for-9 shooting
“I am glad that we were able to sign these three great team players and amazing people. None of them wants to standout. Every one of them is giving their best to the team,” Julbe said in the post-game presser.
With the win, Zamalek returns an African tournament final for the first time since 1998 when they lost to MAS Fez of Morocco.
Morais led the Angolans in scoring with 18 points, Pedro had 12 points, but no other Petro de Luanda player scored more than eight points.
“Zamalek moved the ball better; they played well and we lacked consistency for most of the game. We tried the best that we could to go after Zamalek, but we came up short,” Pedro admitted.
“When you get this level of competition, it is all about attitude because everybody can play. I still believe we if we had five more minutes we could have come back to the game. The difference between us and Zamalek was in the attitude. We weren’t as focused as Zamalek was,” P edro noted.
In the BAL final, Zamalek will face the winner of the second semi-final between hosts Patriots BBC and US Monastir.