LIVE: BAL Semifinals Are Underway
The inaugural Basketball Africa League Semifinals tip off as Zamalek takes on Petro de Luanda in Game 1, followed by Patriots B.B.C. vs. USM in Game 2.
Zamalek vs. Petro de Luanda
Zamalek will come into the match with confidence in sharp-shooter Moloukou Diabate, who went 4-for-6 from deep in Zamalek’s Quarterfinals victory against FA Police. In that same game, Zamalek’s defense stepped up to hold F.A. Police to only 53 total points, the lowest team mark in a single game during the BAL tournament.
Petro de Luanda will look to counter Zamalek’s pressure with its leader Jone Pedro (averaging a double-double with 12.8 ppg and 11.3 rpg), along with playmaker Gerson Goncalves. Goncalves is a forward who can score (averaging 10 ppg) and showed it when he dropped 19 points in Petro de Luanda’s Quarterfinals win over AS Sale.
USM vs. Patriots B.B.C.
Patriots, after losing notable reserve Jermaine Cole, squeaked by Ferroviàrio de Maputo with a 73-71 nail-biter in the Quarterfinals. Patriots are known for winning titles, as they’ve taken home the championship in the Rwandan Basketball Federation the last three consecutive years. They’ll hope to get a chance to bring home a BAL trophy behind the play of Kenneth Gasana (15 ppg) and Brandon Costner (12.3 ppg).
Patriots will have their hands full with USM’s bevy of shooters in Makrem Rondhane, Marcus Crawford, Wael Arakji and Radhouane Slimane, as all four players are averaging double-figures in scoring. USM did not lose a game in group play and is a clear heavyweight in this tournament. They already took down Patriots on May 22, in a convincing 91-75 win. The rematch will determine who gets to play for a BAL title.