ALEXANDRIA (Egypt) – Smouha Sporting Club on Sunday became the second team to advance to the FIBA Africa Basketball League 2019 FINAL-FOUR.
Inspired by a tireless home crowd, and powered by James Justice and Augustine Okosun, who contributed team-highs 23 points apiece, Smouha SC outscored Egypt champions Al Ahly 88-81 to close the two-game ELITE 8 series with a 179- 163 win on aggregate.
In the process, with his game-best 10 assists Justice Jr. recorded the tournament’s second highest (after AS Sale’s Yassine El Mahsini’s 13) dimes in game.
Reginald Holmes hit three of his seven three-point attempts en course to a team-best 18 points, Todd O’Brien recorded his fifth double-double (17 points and 17 rebounds) for the season, and even with Al Ahly’s bench outscoring Smouha SC’s 39-16, the defining encounter belonged to Smouha.
With the win, Smouha extended their winning streak to an impressive 5-0 record, and joined Primeiro D’Agosto from Angola as the first two teams to advance to the FINAL Four in May.
It was a battle that Al Ahly needed to overcome a 9-point deficit from the first-leg in Cairo, a task that seemed possible, especially after their 2-1 playoff victory over Smouha SC in Egypt’s 2019 Super League playoffs last week.
Despite a 40-33 halftime lead Smouha needed to regroup to deny an apparently confident Al Ahly side.
And although Al Ahly opened the second half with a 6-0 run, and used a full-court defence that disturbed their opponents at times, they struggled offensively finishing with a modest Field Goal Shooting (28 for 73) of 38 percent.
While Al Ahly – the winners of the 2016 FIBA Africa Champions Cup – close their campaign with a 2-3 mark and will now focus on the 2019 Super League playoffs, Smouha SC’s dream to conquer Africa remains very much alive.