Saudi Arabia know only victory will do in crunch handball clash against Iraq at Asian Games

Mohammed Alabas passes the ball past Indonesia's Bagas Bagas in their Group C match. (AFP)
Updated 23 August 2018
0

Saudi Arabia know only victory will do in crunch handball clash against Iraq at Asian Games

  • Saudi Arabia need victory to make it to the semifinals in Indonesia.
  • The side must then overturn the negative goal difference while hoping Qatar not only beat Japan but do so by a large margin. 

JAKARTA: Still wounded from Wednesday’s bruising defeat to Qatar, the Saudi Arabian handball team will return to the court on Friday to face Iraq in their final push to secure a place in the Asian Games semifinals.

Pivot Ali Al-Ibrahim was taken to hospital midweek after being kicked in the face during the Kingdom’s heated 28-23 loss, a match that included six yellow cards, a red and seven suspensions. However, with X-rays failing to find a fracture, Al-Ibrahim has been discharged and will be involved again at the GOR Popki Cibubur sports complex.

“Ali injured his nose, but he is OK,” said Saudi coach Muhanna Al-Qamous, who accompanied his player to the local medical center in southern Jakarta. “It was a tough game, but we knew it would be. Qatar are a high-level team, the world champions and with many professional players. Our performance was very good, but at moments our concentration slipped and against teams like Qatar you need to be focused for the entire 60 minutes.”

Saudi Arabia led from the start and it was indeed Al-Ibrahim who extended the lead twice as the Kingdom retained an advantage for much of the first half. Al-Ibrahim, who has yet to miss a shot this tournament, was suspended for two minutes in the 13th, allowing Qatar a route back in. The world champions turned it from 6-8 to 10-9 within the space of four minutes and then never gave up the lead for the remainder of the hour.

The result means Al-Qamous’s side go into the final Group 1 match knowing that nothing but victory will be enough — and even then it may yet not secure them safe passage. Saudi Arabia drew with Japan in their opening group match before Japan then defeated Iraq by three points 27-24. Saudi Arabia must then overturn the negative goal difference while hoping Qatar not only beat Japan but do so by a large margin. 

“Losing to Qatar is not the problem, the problem we have is the result against Japan,” said Al-Qamous. “I said beforehand that we needed to win and the draw just made things more complicated. But let’s see how it goes. The most important thing is we beat Iraq. They have proven themselves as a good team, but we are ready.”

Al-Qamous believes that while his side are gradually improving by the game, they must be prepared to a face a team playing without pressure. Iraq, having narrowly lost both their matches, can no longer progress to the final four.

“Iraq will be competing without nerves. That gives us more responsibility, to use our experience and take control of the game and don’t let them enjoy it,” he said.

“Generally, we have been playing very well on this tour though. We played well against Japan and, despite the result, better against Qatar. You know, we are three months out of season and sometimes it takes a little while to warm up and gel together again. But what I am seeing is a team that is getting better and better. We hope to continue that gradual improvement and achieve our goal of booking our place in the semifinals.” 

In Group 2 later on Friday, Iran will face Korea in what is essentially a play-off for a place in the semis against Qatar. Bahrain, having beaten both teams are already assured of topping the group, meaning it is they who will face Saudi should Al-Qamous and his team come through the contest victorious. 


Warriors beat Trail Blazers in overtime to reach NBA Finals

Updated 21 May 2019
0

Warriors beat Trail Blazers in overtime to reach NBA Finals

  • The two-time defending NBA champions reach the title series for a fifth consecutive season
  • The only other team to reach five straight NBA Finals was the Boston Celtics

LOS ANGELES: Stephen Curry and Draymond Green both posted triple-doubles to power the Golden State Warriors to a 119-117 overtime victory over the Portland Trail Blazers and into a fifth straight NBA Finals.
The two-time defending NBA champions reached the title series for a fifth consecutive season with the triumph in Portland, sweeping the Blazers in four games in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals.
The only other team to reach five straight NBA Finals was the Boston Celtics, when they went to a record 10 in a row from 1957 to 1966.
The Warriors will battle for the title starting on May 30 against either the Milwaukee Bucks or Toronto Raptors, aiming to become the first team since the Los Angeles Lakers of 2000, 2001 and 2002 to three-peat as champions.
Curry and Green became the first teammates in league history to have triple-doubles in the same post-season game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Curry finished with 37 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists, while Green had his second straight triple-double — posting double digits in three key statistical categories — with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.
Fittingly, Curry and Green combined on the game-winning basket in overtime, Curry feeding Green for a three-pointer that pushed Golden State to a 119-115 lead with 39.6 seconds left in overtime.
The Trail Blazers had led 69-65 at halftime, and built the lead to 17 in the third quarter.
But Golden State, playing without injured superstar Kevin Durant as well as DeMarcus Cousins and veteran Andre Iguodala, chipped away, scoring the last nine points of the third period to close within 95-87 and knotting the score at 104-104 on Curry’s layup with 4:34 left in regulation.
Both teams had a chance to win in regulation, but Curry traveled before draining a three-pointer that didn’t count and Lillard was unable to get through in traffic as time expired with the score tied 111-111.
Portland star Lillard, playing with painful separated ribs, finished with 28 points while unheralded Meyers Leonard led the Trail Blazers with 30 points and 12 rebounds.
CJ McCollum added 26 for the Trail Blazers, but it wasn’t enough for a team that had fended off elimination twice in their second-round series against the Denver Nuggets.