BAL Playoffs: Al Ahly punishes REG, steers into semis,Point guard Ehab Amin, a 2019 NBA draft, scored team high 22 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists to help Al Ahly inflict a 94-77 BAL quarter final defeat onto Rwanda Energy Group (REG) on Saturday at BK Arena and sail through to the semifinals.
The Rwandan champions suffered yet another early elimination from the continental club basketball showpiece despite playing on home soil.
REG came into the match as the underdogs, having qualified for the playoffs as the Sahara Conference number third seed while opponents Al ahly finished as first runners-up of Nile Conference, behind conference champions Petro de Luanda.
It was a make-or-break game for both teams in the first half, after rubbing shoulders in the first quarter of the game.
President Paul Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame were among guests who were in attendance.
Playing their usual defensive style, the Egyptian team won the first quarter 23-18 and second quarter 23-14 going into halftime with a 46-32 lead.
Dean Murray’s half time briefing to the REG group in the locker room made a significant impact early in the third quarter as the boys scored crucial points in an attempt to at least tie the scoring.
REG trailed the rest of the second half with double digits despite a powerful 26-point performance from point guard Adonis Filer.
The home side’s reliance on the bench has slightly dropped, contributing as little as 13 bench points against 39 from the Egyptian giants.
“I think we just have to learn from our mistakes and keep going,” said Dieudone Ndizeye, adding, “We can only do better next year.”
REG trailed their opponents on different fronts of the game such as points in the paint, second chance points, fast break points as well as points from turnovers.
For head Coach Dean Murray, Al Ahly deserves credit, “because it is a complete team.”
“We had a good start, we were very patient, every time we got a little quick with our shots, they made us pay,” claimed Murray, citing that REG was capable of beating the latter.
“That team has been together, they have been playing for some games, they were recently crowned the champions of the Egyptian league, so we give them a lot of credit.”
With the win, REG fell short of their campaign to the BAL championship in the same stage for the second time in a row while Al Ahly became the second team to qualify for the tournament’s semifinals after Stade Malien.
“We are goal oriented, the championship is our goal,” said Al Ahly head coach Julbe Bosch.
“We know how to take things one step at a time. We just passed our first test, and we understand that the semifinals will demand more things from us, to be more physical, but I know my players will be ready,” he added.
In another game of the day, Malian powerhouse Stade Malien progressed to the 2023 BAL semifinals following Saturday’s 78-69 quarter final victory over South Africa’s Cape Town Tigers.