At the beginning of the season the odds makers had predicted these two teams to dance in the finals. Fatiha were the defending champs and with the addition of Martin Konecny they were only that much tougher. But then there was the "next" ones. The young guns from Tamjeed. Foiled in the previous attempt in bringing down the veterans, these kids were ready for their place in history. Their roster was solid from top to bottom and it just might finally be their turn.
|Fatiha Defends Its Crown
||Feb 6, 2008
Fatiha was well prepared for this match. They had everything on the line and weren't ready to be dethroned any time soon. All their players were up and ready for this one. Tamjeed wanted this one just as badly but luck wasn't necessarily on their side. Usman Chaudhry came hobbling into the gym with a sprain ankle. A result of a freak accident while he was performing his prayers! Three-point giant Sanel Sehic was questionable as he had a prior commitment and sources had it that Ahsan Raza would not be attending as he had an exam to write at 4:00pm that day. Hey, what do you expect from a team that still in school? Fortunately for Tamjeed Sanel Sehic showed up at tip off and Ahsan Raza shockingly showed up to the game on time as well as he decided he needed a break from all the studying.
The first half was a see-saw battle. Both teams took numerous turns at holding the lead. Fatiha took an early 5 point lead as they slashed their way down the lane to the basket. That task was extremely difficult as the middle was plugged by both Nav Gill and Ahsan Raza. Still, Deklon Roberts was able to take create opportunities and get Tamjeed's big men to commit fouls and send him to the bonus line. That of course made no difference to Tamjeed. They just came right back and started jacking the 3-pointers and immediately wiped away the lead. Sehic stepped into the game minutes into the half but he had no time to warm up. That was evident early in his play and his team was not able to capitalize. Although these two teams possess some of the best rebounders in the league it was a complete mystery that Fatiha only gathered 7 boards in the half and Tamjeed had only 6 boards. The fact that the first half score was 21-21 you would think that they were missing many shots (which they did) but you just couldn't tell. The first half was a tough battle for both sides and scoring was coming from all players on the floor. Konecny and Roberts led their team with 6 points while Gamada Roba equaled the 6 points in the half for Tamjeed.
The second half carried the same level of intensity. Both teams continued to battle back and forth but it was Deklon Roberts that started to feel the heat. Roberts picked up his 4th foul midway through the half and that spelled trouble for Fatiha as they were relying on him often to attack the rim. Clearly Roberts himself was not impressed with the officiating and voiced his opinion. It must have worked because the refs left him alone for the remainder of the night even though it appeared at times he was about to get the boot for fouling out. Tamjeed, however, did not take advantage of the fact that Roberts had 4 fouls. Instead they continued to settle for outside shots in hopes of scoring some big triples. That never happened as they only managed one trey made by Sehic, however, their big men were all hitting their jumpers where it mattered. The battle on both sides continued and with 4:40 remaining Tamjeed called a time-out trailing 36-35. That lead was short-lived as Tamjeed would answer back quickly. Deklon would put his team back on top with a big basket and he followed that up with a free throw. Only a short moment later Tamjeed would tie the game 39-39 with 0:45 remaining and call a time-out to plan things out. The last remaining seconds saw both team trade baskets and with 0.02 left and the score tied at 41-41 Fatiha would use their last time-out to design a play. Unfortunately that led no where and the game was headed to overtime!
Following the jump ball Sherif Shehata would step up to a timely basket and give his team the lead. That was quickly answered back by Ibrahim Baig as he managed to slash his way to the basket. Mike Jacobs was able to extend the lead with his own bucket as the score was now 45-43. Tamjeed was relentless in their attempts to tie the game and it paid off when Sanel Sehic tied the game with two free throws. Tamjeed could have extended their lead when Ahsan Raza was sent to the line but he was unable to convert either of his two attempts at the line. Fatiha tried to capitalize on that mistake but couldn’t and with 0.08 left in overtime and the game tied at 45-45, Tamjeed would call a time-out with a timely possession deep in their end. What happened next was not what anyone could have predicted. Ibrahim Baig was left to inbound the ball while their snipers prepared to hit a game winning shot. Unfortunately for Tamjeed the Fatiha defensive coverage was strong and in a move of desperation Ibrahim made a pass that was easily picked off by Martin Konecny. Martin wasted no time and dished the ball to Sherif Shehata as the clock was counting down. Shehata received the pass just outside of the paint and sank a short jumper off the glass to give his team the lead with 2 seconds remaining! With the clock running and no time to turn around and throw the ball the whistle sounded and Fatiha had claimed the championship!
Hats off to both teams as it was a fantastic game that could have gone either way. Sherif’s big shot gave Fatiha their second consecutive title. This was also the 4th title that Sherif has claimed at I-Slam. Deklon Roberts was the man of the match as he finished with 18 points and 4 rebounds. His fine play through the playoffs also earned him the Playoffs MVP honors. Nav Gill and Sanel Sehic also played well and were the only other players to finish in double-digit scoring with 11 and 10 points respectively. The loss was heart-breaking for Ibrahim Baig who had earlier lost a bout to claim the Scarborough Championship. Still, there’s much game and talent in these kids from Tamjeed and we know they have a long way to go but will certainly be writing their names in history.