Saudi Arabia's Young Falcons soar to shock tournament favorites China at Asian Games

Camara celebrates scoring the hat-trick that sent the Young Falcons through to the last-eight in Indonesia. (AFP)
Updated 24 August 2018
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Saudi Arabia's Young Falcons soar to shock tournament favorites China at Asian Games

  • Hat-trick for Haroune Camara gifts Saudi Arabia a surprise win over China.
  • Coach Al-Shehri proud of his players after they upset the odds to see off favorites.

JAKARTA: Keen to leave a lasting impression on national team manager Juan Antonio Pizzi who was watching from afar, young Saudi Arabian striker Haroune Camara netted a hat-trick to help defeat hotly tipped China 4-3 and book the Young Falcons a place in the Asian Games quarterfinals.
China had arrived at the Patriot Chandrabhaga Stadium as favorites, having scored 11 times and conceded just once during a group stage in which they finished top, with three wins from three. Yet Camara, who broke into the Al-Qadisiyah first team last season and trained with Pizzi’s senior national team ahead of the World Cup, had other plans.
The 20-year-old had yet to score at this month’s U23 tournament, but that changed in the 17th minute when he won the ball in midfield, capitalised on China’s high defensive line and raced through to fire past Wei Chen. He added his second five minutes after Saad Al-Selouli had doubled Saudi Arabia’s lead and, in the second half and with China getting a foothold in the game, he found space to smash home a half-volley to complete his hat-trick.
“I am very happy with my performance,” he said, posing with the match-ball.
“This competition is very important to us and every player tried to do his best today because we know coach Pizzi is watching. We hope to leave a good impression. It was a difficult game, but we made it easier for ourselves because we took our chances in the first half.”
As Saudi Arabia’s full-backs visibly tired, China rallied, scoring three times in the last 10 minutes to set up a nervy finish, but Saad Al-Shehri’s side held on to progress to the last-eight, where they will meet Japan on Monday.
For 75 minutes, Saudi Arabia looked like the team Al-Shehri had spoken about; a team capable not only of creating goals but of taking them too. In the opening period, they scored with their only three shots on target, Al-Salouli’s coming after a superb dribbling run from Abdulrahman Ghareeb who drew in two defenders before releasing his teammate who lofted a perfect finish over the outrushing Chen. Ayman Al-Khulaifi and Yousef Al-Harbi again impressed.
“I am proud of the players for what they did in this game, especially the 75 minutes in which we fought,” said Al-Shehri. “We ran a lot and played against a very good team that has been preparing for this tournament for the past two years. China are here with players all born in 1995 while we have came with all players born in 1997, so we must be very proud.”
China coach Massimiliano Maddaloni struggled to explain his team’s first-half performance, but insisted his side were still in the match until Camara netted the Young Falcons’ fourth on the hour mark.
“In the first half, they attacked our centre-backs, which gave us big problems,” said the Italian. “Their movement created chaos for our defensive organisation and we suffered a lot. In the second half though, we had many opportunities to make goals and if we didn’t concede that fourth, we could have got back in it. If the game had lasted even a little bit longer I think we would have equalized.”


Leonard stars as Raptors claw back with win over Bucks

Updated 20 May 2019
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Leonard stars as Raptors claw back with win over Bucks

  • Milwaukee’s MVP finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo struggles to just 12 points
  • He then fouled out in the first minute of the second overtime period

LOS ANGELES: Kawhi Leonard scored eight of his 36 points in the second overtime period Sunday to lead the Toronto Raptors to a gritty 118-112 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Eastern Conference finals.
The Raptors, who dropped the first two games of the best-of-seven series in Milwaukee, clawed their way back to 2-1 in front of home fans and will try to level the set when they host game four on Tuesday.
Pascal Siakam scored 25 points and Spanish center Marc Gasol added 16 for the Raptors, who got off to a quick start and led much of the night but had to battle to put the Bucks away.
“We just played a lot tougher,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “We were up guarding, we were physical. We were ready to play tonight.”
Milwaukee’s Most Valuable Player finalist Giannis Antetokounmpo struggled to just 12 points on five-of-16 shooting.
Antetokounmpo’s 23 rebounds helped the Bucks stay in touch, but he didn’t reach double figures in points until the middle of the fourth quarter and he produced eight of the Bucks’ 20 turnovers.
Antetokounmpo fouled out in the first minute of the second overtime period.
Moments later the Bucks managed to edge ahead 105-103 — taking the lead for the first time since Antetokounmpo scored the game’s opening basket — but Leonard and the Raptors roared back.
Leonard’s steal and dunk put Toronto ahead 112-109 and his driving bank shot gave Toronto a 114-110 lead with 32.4 seconds remaining.
Leonard played a key role in limiting Antetokounmpo and Nurse said his defensive play was “probably the biggest key of the game.”
“Not only did he just play good, but he made some huge plays with some steals and rip-aways and break aways,” Nurse said.
“Offense was hard to come by there for both teams for a while and any time you can get a steal and a break out it’s a huge momentum play.”
Toronto had a chance to win it in regulation, but they let a 96-91 lead slip away in the final 1:13 of the fourth quarter.
Milwaukee guard Khris Middleton’s putback basket from his own miss with 2.2 seconds left in regulation forced overtime.
The Raptors led 103-99 with 1:29 remaining in the first extra session.
But Malcolm Brogdon floated in a shot and George Hill drained two free throws to tie it before Leonard’s jump shot fell short.
The Raptors overcame a slow night from Kyle Lowry, who scored 11 points before fouling out with 6:12 left in the fourth.
Although Leonard scored 19 points in the fourth quarter and both overtimes, some grimaces from the Raptors star sparked concerns he might be injured.
“I’m feeling all right,” he said. “This is playoff basketball. Everybody’s hurting, you just have to keep fighting.”
Hill led the Bucks with 24 points and fellow reserve Brogdon added 20. Center Brook Lopez led the Bucks starters with 16 points.
“I feel like we gave ourselves several chances,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We weren’t able to get over the hump.
“When you have opportunities you’ve got to make them and we didn’t quite make enough of our good ones. I think we’ll be better in game four, Giannis, everybody.”