Zamalek used a strong third quarter on Wednesday to pull away from a stubborn FAP squad and become the first team to advance to the Basketball Africa League (BAL) semi-finals.
Zamalek won 82-53, a score that didn’t seem likely after a low scoring first half where the Egyptian outfit led 30-28.
FAP did everything right defensively in the first half when its zone defense stymied Zamalek.
Early in the game, FAP’s aggressive zone held Zamalek scoreless for almost five minutes. They embarked on a 10-0 run, taking a 14-7 lead and looking poised to cause the biggest upset in the tournament.
But that was the best moment for the Yaounde-based outfit. They went ice cold on offense, missing shot after shot.
Zamalek capitalized with a 10-3 run in the last five minutes of the second quarter, paving the way for its two-point lead at the break.
Walter Hodge sparked Zamalek’s offense with a team-high 18 points. Souleyman Diabate contributed 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting from beyond the three-point arc and 18-year-old Mohab Yasser – the youngest player in the BAL – finished with 14 points, helping the Egyptians improve their record to 4-0.
“Zamalek did a great job,” admitted FAP head coach Lazare Adie Ngono.
“We struggled offensively, we couldn’t find our rhythm when we needed it. I should have prepared my team to respond to pressure situations.”
Amadou Harouna, the only FAP player to score in double digits, finished with a game-high 21 points, but the Cameroonian team’s poor offense proved costly.
FAP made only 2 of its 21 three-point attempts, and with Marcus Thomas Jr, who averaged 13 points in his first three BAL games, finishing with just four points, Adie Ngono’s men found themselves unable to fight back.
“Our mistakes turned into points for our opponent,” Adie Ngono said.
“We had everything prepared for this game, but we couldn’t execute and we lost focus.”
“In the second half they took advantage of our mistakes. The major takeaway from this tournament is that we have to continue to grow the game of basketball back home and put our players in a better situation for these kind of tournaments,” Adie Ngono explained.
What the numbers say about FAP’s defeat:
Diabate, Chinemelu Elonu and Michael Fakuade combined for 31 of Zamalek’s 37 bench points while FAP’s bench finished with just 8 points.
FAP’s reliance on individual plays resulted in only 10 assists while Zamalek went on to close the game out thanks to their 28 assists.