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Al Gharafa’s Hakim Victor Thomas Victor attempts to score a basket during his side’s Heir Apparent Cup semi-final against Al Rayyan at Al Gharafa Sports Hall, yesterday. Al Rayyan’s Yaseen Musa is also seen. Al Gharafa won 68-66. BELOW: Eljaish’s Antonio Anderson and Al Arabi’s Alvin Mofunanya in action during their side’s Heir Apparent Cup semi-final match at the same venue. Eljaish beat Al Arabi 72-70.
By Danotzki Santos
DOHA: Al Rayyan beat Al Gharafa in the dying minutes of their second match to pull off a nerve-cracking 68-66 win to level the semi-final series in the Heir Apparent Cup at the Al Gharafa Sports Hall yesterday.
Jerome Davidson and Mohammed Hassan Mohammed converted five crucial free throws from the stripe off desperation fouls caused by shackling defense on their foes on the other end to lift the former Qatar Basketball League champions from a 63-66 deficit with less than a minute in the game.
Coach Brian Rowsom and his wards chased Al Gharafa all night, trailing most of the way by as much as 16 points midway in the third quarter before finding their rhythm as the game reached the homestretch.
Coach Koussay Hatem’s wards were on a roll, with spitfire Earl Calvin Cage blazing hot in the first period drilling 11 markers to secure a 19-16 edge for Al Gharafa at the end of the first period.
Omondi Robin Amoke and Victor Hakim Thomas then combined in a 12-5 run for the hosts early in the second period to increase their lead to 31-21.
With the half-time score at 36-29, Thomas scattered six straight markers defying Al Rayyan’s tight inside defence to steer a 14-5 assault that gave Al Gharafa their biggest lead at 50-34 midway in the third period.
The black shirts banked on Suleiman Braimoh and Davidson’s efforts as they inched closer, 50-43, as the game went to the final 10 minutes.
Al Gharafa led at 66-63 with a minute left in the match but lost the ball in a couple of possessions to lose the game.
Earlier, Eljaish are one win away from reaching the final after beating Al Arabi 72-70, to take a 2-0 lead in the series.