‘Nothing more special than Emir Cup’
DOHA AL SADD Club captain Saad Abdulrahman was thrilled to see his team ending the Emir Basketball Cup drought after eight years of gap.
In the final at Al Gharafa Club Indoor Hall on Friday, Sadd rampaged to 81-56 victory against mighty Al Rayyan, which had to be contented with third the runnerup finish in a row.
Since beating Rayyan Club in the 2003-04 final, Sadd was only once more able to reach the final. But after the defeat by Qatar Sports Club in the 2006-07 season final, it had been frustratingly waiting for its turn to taste the triumph in the prestigious event.
This season it finished runner- up to Rayyan in the League. But the team made changes in the Heir Apparent Cup and then in the Emir Cup to find a potent combination.
The arrival of American point guard Joson Fontenet provided it the ‘chemistry’ that was missing earlier.
After the roaring victory, Emir Cup Most Valuable Player Abdulrahman commented he had not expected his team to win the final and that too so ruthlessly: “Yeah..it’s an incredible win for us. The last time when we won the Cup was in 2004. For eight years, we’d been trying to win this Cup again.
“When you put in all the time and effort, it is very special and sweet. I want to thank all my teammates, the coaches, the team staff and the management for putting in their entire efforts.
“It’s been a long season.
But by God’s grace, we started to play good basketball at the right time. The team was peaking. We’re proud to be playing the best basketball right now. We didn’t have the same team that was in the League and the HA Cup (Heir Apparent). Everybody was new. So there was no needed chemistry in the team,” continued Abdulrahman, with face covered in sweat beads.
The Sadd captain also said the team found its real rhythm and momentum after the Heir Apparent Cup, won by Al Arabi Club. “We could not play well in the HA Cup.
But we began gelling after that. There is nothing more special and more important than the Emir Cup. It is great for the club and fans.” Abdulrahman was expecting a close result in the final but his team surpassed the expectations. “No…not by such a big margin. Rayyan is a big team and has played and won many championships and titles. They were almost out of the Cup. Arabi beat El Jaish and Rayyan got a second chance to stay in the Cup.
“Rayyan did not play the basketball it used to against Gharafa. Even though Gharafa was missing players, still it was squeezing out one or two victories against Rayyan, while we easily beat Arabi. So momentum wise, we are more gelled and fluent as a team.
We started the game strongly and as the game went along, we started to gain more confidence. At one time, we were ahead by more than 30 points and then we put the shutter down on them, cruising to the victory,” added Abdulrahman, who had the most three-pointer of the final (four in five attempts).
Michael Benjamin, the American import of Rayyan who had a double double (16 points and 11 rebounds), was the first to cut the basket net to keep it as a souvenir. The 30-year-old 6-ft, 11-inch was happy to do his bit in the club’s win. “I’m just very excited with the victory against Rayyan. We worked very hard for this. Rayyan is a very good team as you know and I’m just very happy.”